Cellular stress by DNA damage induces checkpoint kinase-2 (CHK2)-mediated phosphorylation and stabilization of the E2F1 transcription factor, leading to induction of apoptosis by activation of a subset of proapoptotic E2F1 target genes, including Apaf1 and p73. This report characterizes an interaction between the aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor (AHR), a ligand-activated transcription factor, and E2F1 that results in the attenuation of E2F1-mediated apoptosis. In Ahr(-/-) fibroblasts stably transfected with a doxycycline-regulated AHR expression vector, inhibition of AHR expression causes a significant elevation of oxidative stress, gammaH2A.X histone phosphorylation, and E2F1-dependent apoptosis, which can be blocked by small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of E2F1 expression. In contrast, ligand-dependent AHR activation protects these cells from etoposide-induced cell death. In cells expressing both proteins, AHR and E2F1 interact independently of the retinoblastoma protein (RB), because AHR and E2F1 coimmunoprecipitate from extracts of RB-negative cells. Additionally, chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicate that AHR and E2F1 bind to the Apaf1 promoter at a region containing a consensus E2F1 binding site but no AHR binding sites. AHR activation represses Apaf1 and TAp73 mRNA induction by a constitutively active CHK2 expression vector. Furthermore, AHR overexpression blocks the transcriptional induction of Apaf1 and p73 and the accumulation of sub-G(0)/G(1) cells resulting from ectopic overexpression of E2F1. These results point to a proproliferative, antiapoptotic function of the Ah receptor that likely plays a role in tumor progression.
Marlowe, Jennifer L; Fan, Yunxia; Chang, Xiaoqing; Peng, Li; Knudsen, Erik S; Xia, Ying; and Puga, Alvaro, "The aryl hydrocarbon receptor binds to E2F1 and inhibits E2F1-induced apoptosis." (2008). Kimmel Cancer Center Faculty Papers. Paper 24.