Phenylthiourea as a weak activator of aryl hydrocarbon receptor inhibiting 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin-induced CYP1A1 transcription in zebrafish embryo

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The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that can be activated by a diverse synthetic and naturally-occurring chemicals, such as the halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (HAHs) and the non-halogenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The liganded AHR modulates the genetic activity of a variety of xenobiotic-responsive genes, including cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1). The tyrosinase inhibitor 1-phenyl-2-thiourea (PTU) is widely used in zebrafish research to suppress pigmentation in developing embryos/fry. Here we showed that 0.2 mM PTU induced a basal level of CYP1A1 transcription in zebrafish embryonic integument as early as 24 h postfertilization (hpf) stage. Subsequently, PTU induced CYP1A1 transcription in blood vessels at 36 hpf. During larval stage, the liver and all pharyngeal arch vessels of PTU-treated embryos exhibited CYP1A1 transcription as well. Comparing to TCDD, PTU induces CYP1A1 transcription with much lower efficacy in zebrafish embryos. Coincubating the embryos with PTU and TCDD led to repressing TCDD-induced CYP1A1 transcription. Mechanistic studies indicated that both of PTU- and TCDD-mediated CYP1A1 transcriptions are modulated by the same AHR-ARNTsignaling pathway.

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