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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: PLoS One.

Volume 10, Issue 9, 17 September 2015, Article number e0138097.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138097

Copyright © 2015 Stanley et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) is a multifunctional protein that has important roles in inflammation and wound healing. Its aberrant regulation may contribute to many disease processes such as heart disease. The PAI-1 promoter is responsive to multiple inputs including cytokines, growth factors, steroids and oxidative stress. The statin drugs, atorvastatin, mevastatin and rosuvastatin, increased basal and stimulated expression of the PAI-1 promoter 3-fold. A statin-responsive, nuclear hormone response element was previously identified in the PAI-1 promoter, but it was incompletely characterized. We characterized this direct repeat (DR) of AGGTCA with a 3-nucleotide spacer at -269/-255 using deletion and directed mutagenesis. Deletion or mutation of this element increased basal transcription from the promoter suggesting that it repressed PAI-1 transcription in the unliganded state. The half-site spacing and the ligand specificity suggested that this might be a pregnane X receptor (PXR) responsive element. Computational molecular docking showed that atorvastatin, mevastatin and rosuvastatin were structurally compatible with the PXR ligand-binding pocket in its agonist conformation. Experiments with Gal4 DNA binding domain fusion proteins showed that Gal4-PXR was activated by statins while other DR + 3 binding nuclear receptor fusions were not. Overexpression of PXR further enhanced PAI-1 transcription in response to statins. Finally, ChIP experiments using Halo-tagged PXR and RXR demonstrated that both components of the PXR-RXR heterodimer bound to this region of the PAI-1 promoter.

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