Background

The AHR is a member of the bHLH/PAS subfamily of transcription factors that have been linked to development, oxygen homeostasis, and circadian rhythm.14,15 AHR is the only member of this family demonstrated to require ligand-dependent activation for heterodimerization and transcriptional activity. No endogenous ligand for AHR has been identified; however, a large group of environmental aromatic hydrocarbons and dietary indolecarbinols (e.g., ICZ) have been shown to bind and activate the AHR.16,17 TCDD, an unwanted environmental contaminant and one of the most potent AhR ligands, has been utilized as a molecular probe to study AHR-dependent signal transduction. Adverse outcomes observed in animals treated with TCDD include a wasting syndrome, tumor promotion in rodent liver and skin, immune dysfunction, and reproductive and developmental anomalies.18-20

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