Formation and metabolism of the tryptophan-derived 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole - a light-induced Ah-receptor ligand
Abstract: The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand dependent transcription factor ubiquitously expressed in mammalian cells. It is a genetically ancient protein mostly known for binding the extremely toxic contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Binding to the AhR explains the variety of toxic responses of TCDD as well as the induction of several drug metabolizing enzymes. Induction of cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) is the most well characterized of the AhR regulated responses. The physiological functions of AhR and the endogenous ligand(s) for the receptor are under investigation but are not yet unraveled.Several tryptophan (TRP) derived indol-containing compounds have been reported to possess AhR affinity/CYP1A1 inducing capacity and TRP mediates CYP1A1 induction by UV light. The TRP photoproduct, 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) has the highest AhR affinity described so far and it causes a rapid and transient induction of the CYP1A1 gene in human cells. A number of reports on constitutive CYP1A1 activity in cultured cells is therefore most likely explained by the presence of TRP-derived AhR ligands in cell culture media.The aims of the studies were to investigate the impact of FICZ and FICZ metabolism on CYP1A1 gene regulation, to explore the metabolic fate of FICZ and to identify whether normal laboratory light could lead to formation of FICZ and thereby contribute to earlier observed CYP1A1 inducing effects by cell culture media.Metabolic studies using fractions of Aroclor-induced and non-induced rat liver and human liver as well as heterologously expressed enzymes revealed that FICZ can be efficiently metabolized by the CYP enzymes 1A1 and 1A2 and by an unknown cytosolic enzyme, to a number of hydroxylated and other oxidized metabolites. All of the hitherto identified 11 hydroxylated metabolites of FICZ are prone to conjugation reactions by glucuronosyltranferases and sulfotransferases. The metabolites formed by human enzymes are primarily sulfated. Thus, the sulfated metabolites of FICZ will be crucial in the future analyzes of FICZ formation in vivo. FICZ was identified to be formed, not only by UV illumination, but also by normal laboratory light. The constitutive CYP1A1 activity was significantly induced through the formation of several TRP related photoproducts in light-exposed medium. One of these photoproducts was identified as FICZ. Thus, the TRP photoproduct, FICZ, fits into a model in which FICZ auto-regulates the expression of induced enzymes. It is hypothesized that FICZ might function as a chemical messenger that activates AhR in response to light and might be one of several possible endogenous AhR ligands.
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