The hepatitis B virus X-associated protein 2 (XAP2) is an immunophilin homolog and core component of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Immunophilins are components of many steroid receptor complexes, serving a largely unknown function. Transiently expressed AhR·YFP (yellow fluorescent protein) localized to the nuclei of COS-1 and NIH-3T3 cells. Co-expression of AhR·YFP with XAP2 restored cytoplasmic localization, which was reversed by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin treatment (TCDD). The effect of XAP2 on AhR localization was specific involving a nuclear localization signal-mediated pathway. Examination of the ratio of AhR to XAP2 in the AhR complex revealed that ~25% of transiently expressed AhR was associated with XAP2, in contrast with ~100% when the AhR and XAP2 were coexpressed. Strikingly, TCDD did not influence these ratios, suggesting that ligand binding initiates nuclear translocation prior to complex dissociation. Analysis of endogenous AhR in Hepa-1 cells revealed that ~40% of the AhR complex was associated with XAP2, predicting observed AhR localization to cytoplasm and nuclei. This study reveals a novel functional role for the immunophilin-like component of a soluble receptor complex and provides new insight into the mechanism of AhR-mediated signal transduction, demonstrating the existence of two structurally distinct and possibly functionally unique forms of the AhR.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology