The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated member of the basic helix-loop-helix family of transcription factors, binds with high affinity to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and the environmental toxin 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (dioxin). Most of the biochemical, biological, and toxicological responses caused by exposure to PAHs and polychlorinated dioxins are mediated, at least in part, by the AhR. The AhR is a client protein of Hsp90, a molecular chaperone that can be reversibly acetylated with functional consequences. The main objective of this study was to determine whether modulating Hsp90 acetylation would affect ligand-mediated activation of AhR signaling. Trichostatin A and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, two broad spectrum HDAC inhibitors, blocked PAH and dioxin-mediated induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 in cell lines derived from the human aerodigestive tract. Silencing HDAC6 or treatment with tubacin, a pharmacological inhibitor of HDAC6, also suppressed the induction of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1. Inhibiting HDAC6 led to hyperacetylation of Hsp90 and loss of complex formation with AhR, cochaperone p23, and XAP-2. Inactivation or silencing of HDAC6 also led to reduced binding of ligand to the AhR and decreased translocation of the AhR from cytosol to nucleus in response to ligand. Ligand-induced recruitment of the AhR to the CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 promoters was inhibited when HDAC6 was inactivated. Mutation analysis of Hsp90 Lys294 shows that its acetylation status is a strong determinant of interactions with AhR and p23 in addition to ligand-mediated activation of AhR signaling. Collectively, these results show that HDAC6 activity regulates the acetylation of Hsp90, the ability of Hsp90 to chaperone the AhR, and the expression of AhR-dependent genes. Given the established link between activation of AhR signaling and xenobiotic metabolism, inhibitors of HDAC6 may alter drug or carcinogen metabolism
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