Suppression of the Pregnane X Receptor during Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress Is Achieved by Down-Regulating Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor-4α and Up-Regulating Liver-Enriched Inhibitory Protein

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Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is recognized as a common theme in the development of metabolic syndrome and other diseases. Chronic liver diseases develop ER stress and also show decreased capacity of drug metabolism. The pregnane X receptor (PXR) is a master regulator of genes involved in drug elimination. This study was performed to determine whether ER stress condition decreases the expression of PXR and whether the decrease alters the induction of cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). Human primary hepatocytes and HepG2 cell line (human hepatocellular carcinoma) were treated with brefeldin A and thapsigargin, 2 well-established ER stressors. Without exceptions, both stressors significantly decreased the expression of PXR. The decrease led to reduced induction of CYP3A4. Reporter dissection study, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, and chromatin immunoprecipitation located in the PXR promoter region 2 adjacent elements recognized by hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α (HNF-4α) and cytidine-cytidine-adenosine-adenosine-thymidine enhanced binding proteins (C/EBPs), respectively. Additional studies demonstrated that HNF-4α was down-regulated during ER stress but the expression of C/EBPβ varied depending on a particular form of C/EBPβ. Liver-enriched activator protein (LAP) was down-regulated but liver-enriched inhibitory protein (LIP) was highly induced. Nevertheless, over-expression of HNF-4α or LAP restored the expression of PXR. Interestingly, the very same sequence also responded to interleukin-6 (IL-6), and primary hepatocytes treated with thapsigargin significantly increased the level of IL-6 mRNA. These findings establish a functional interconnection between ER stress and signaling of proinflammatory cytokines in the regulation of PXR expression.

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