Peroxisome proliferators (PPs) are an important class of chemicals that act as hepatic tumor promoters in laboratory rodents. The key target for PPs is the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPARα) and these chemicals cause cancer by altering the expression of a subset of genes involved in cell growth regulation. The purpose of the present study was to utilize high-density gene expression arrays to examine the genes regulated by the potent PP Wy14,643 (50 μM, 6 h) in both rat (FaO) and human (HepG2) hepatoma cells. Treatment of FaO cells, but not HepG2, revealed the expected fatty acid catabolism genes. However, a larger than expected number of protein kinases, phosphatases, and signaling molecules were also affected exclusively in the FaO cells, including MAPK-phosphatase 1 (MKP-1), Janus-activated kinases 1 and 2 (JAK1 and 2), and glycogen synthetase kinase α and β (GSKα and β). The mRNA accumulation of these genes as well as the protein level for GSK3α, JAK1, and JAK2 and MKP-1 activity was corroborated. Due to the importance of MKP-1 in cell signaling, this induction was examined further and was found to be controlled, at least in part, at the level of the gene's promoter. Interestingly, overexpression of MKP-1 in turn affected the constitutive activity of PPARα. Taken together, the gene expression arrays revealed an important subset of PP-regulated genes to be kinases and phosphatases. These enzymes not only would affect growth factor signaling and cell cycle control but also could represent feedback control mechanisms and modulate the activity of PPARα.
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