Drugs mediate the transcriptional activation of the 5-aminolevulinic acid synthase (ALAS1) gene via the chicken xenobiotic-sensing nuclear receptor (CXR).

The Journal of biological chemistry

PubMedID: 12121995

Fraser DJ, Podvinec M, Kaufmann MR, Meyer UA. Drugs mediate the transcriptional activation of the 5-aminolevulinic acid synthase (ALAS1) gene via the chicken xenobiotic-sensing nuclear receptor (CXR). J Biol Chem. 2002;277(38):34717-26.
Heme is an essential component in oxygen transport and metabolism in living systems. In non-erythropoietic cells, 5-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS1) is the first and rate-limiting enzyme in the heme biosynthesis pathway. ALAS1 expression and heme levels are increased in vivo by drugs and other chemical inducers of cytochrome P450 hemoproteins through mechanisms that are poorly understood. In the present studies, a chicken genomic cosmid library was employed to isolate a major portion of the ALAS1 gene. Two drug-responsive enhancer sequences, 176 and 167 base pairs in length, were identified in the 5'-flanking region of the gene in reporter gene assays in the hepatoma cell line LMH. The relative potency of inducers to activate these enhancers corresponds to induction of ALAS1 mRNA levels in LMH cells. Analysis of putative transcription factor binding sites within the enhancers revealed DR5 and DR4 type recognition sequences for nuclear receptors. Drug activation of the enhancer elements was reduced at least 60% after mutagenesis of individual nuclear receptor binding sites and was virtually eliminated following alteration of both recognition sites within the respective elements. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and transactivation studies demonstrate direct interactions between the nuclear receptor binding sites and the recently described chicken xenobiotic-sensing receptor, (CXR) implicating drug activation mechanisms for ALAS1 similar to those found in inducible cytochrome(s) P450. This is the first report describing direct transcriptional activation of ALAS1 by drugs via drug-responsive enhancer sequences.