The AhR and NF-κB/Rel Proteins Mediate the Inhibitory Effect of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin on the 3′ Immunoglobulin Heavy Chain Regulatory Region

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Transcriptional regulation of the murine immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain gene (Igh) involves several regulatory elements including the 3′Igh regulatory region (3′IghRR), which is composed of at least 4 enhancers (hs3A, hs1.2, hs3B, and hs4). The hs1.2 and hs4 enhancers exhibit the greatest transcriptional activity and contain binding sites for several transcription factors including nuclear factor kappaB/Rel (NF-κB/Rel) proteins and the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Interestingly, the environmental immunosuppressant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), which potently inhibits antibody secretion, also profoundly inhibits 3′IghRR and hs1.2 enhancer activation induced by the B-lymphocyte activator lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but enhances LPS-induced activation of the hs4 enhancer. Within the hs1.2 and hs4 enhancers, the AhR binding site is in close proximity or overlaps an NF-κB/Rel binding site suggesting a potential reciprocal modulation of the 3′IghRR by AhR and NF-κB/Rel. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the role of NF-κB/Rel and the AhR on the 3′IghRR and its enhancers using the AhR ligand TCDD, the AhR antagonist CH223191, and toll-like receptor agonists LPS, Resiquimod (R848), or cytosine-phosphate-guanine-oligodeoxynucleotides (CpG). Utilizing the CH12.LX B-lymphocyte cell line and variants expressing either a 3′IghRR-regulated transgene reporter or an inducible IκBα (inhibitor kappa B-alpha protein) superrepressor (IκBαAA), we demonstrate an AhR- and NF-κB/Rel-dependent modulation of 3′IghRR and hs4 activity. Additionally, in mouse splenocytes or CH12.LX cells, binding within the hs1.2 and hs4 enhancer of the AhR and the NF-κB/Rel proteins RelA and RelB was differentially altered by the cotreatment of LPS and TCDD. These results suggest that the AhR and NF-κB/Rel protein binding profile within the 3′IghRR mediates the inhibitory effects of TCDD on Ig expression and therefore antibody levels.

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