Pregnane X receptor protects HepG2 cells from BaP-induced DNA damage. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pregnane X receptor (PXR) is a nuclear receptor that coordinately regulates transcriptional expression of both phase I and phase II metabolizing enzymes. PXR plays an important role in the pharmacokinetics of a broad spectrum of endogenous and xenobiotic compounds and appears to have evolved in part to protect organisms from toxic xenobiotics. Metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), a well-established carcinogen and ubiquitous environmental contaminant, can result in either detoxification or bioactivation to its genotoxic forms. Therefore, PXR could modulate the genotoxicity of BaP by changing the balance of the metabolic pathways in favor of BaP detoxification. To examine the role of PXR in BaP genotoxicity, BaP-DNA adduct formation was measured by 32P-postlabeling in BaP-treated parental HepG2 cells and human PXR-transfected HepG2 cells. The presence of transfected PXR significantly reduced the level of adducts relative to parental cells by 50-65% (p < 0.001), demonstrating that PXR protects liver cells from genotoxicity induced by exposure to BaP. To analyze potential PXR-regulated detoxification pathways in liver cells, a panel of genes involved in phase I and phase II metabolism and excretion was surveyed with real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR. The messenger RNA levels of CYP1A2, GSTA1, GSTA2, GSTM1, UGT1A6, and BCRP (ABCG2) were significantly higher in cells overexpressing PXR, independent of exposure to BaP. In addition, the total GST enzymatic activity, which favors the metabolic detoxification of BaP, was significantly increased by the presence of PXR (p < 0.001), independent of BaP exposure. Taken together, these results suggest that PXR plays an important role in protection against DNA damage by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as BaP, and that these protective effects may be through a coordinated regulation of genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism.

published proceedings

  • Toxicol Sci

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Naspinski, C., Gu, X., Zhou, G., Mertens-Talcott, S. U., Donnelly, K. C., & Tian, Y.

citation count

  • 56

complete list of authors

  • Naspinski, Christine||Gu, Xinsheng||Zhou, Guo-Dong||Mertens-Talcott, Susanne U||Donnelly, Kirby C||Tian, Yanan

publication date

  • July 2008