Suppression of cytokine-mediated complement factor gene expression through selective activation of the Ah receptor with 3′,4′-dimethoxy- α-naphthoflavone

Iain A. Murray, Colin A. Flaveny, Christopher R. Chiaro, Arun K. Sharma, Rachel S. Tanos, Jennifer C. Schroeder, Shantu G. Amin, William H. Bisson, Siva K. Kolluri, Gary H. Perdew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


We have characterized previously a class of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) ligand termed selective AHR modulators (SAhRMs). SAhRMs exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, including suppression of cytokine-mediated acute phase genes (e.g., Saa1), through dissociation of non-dioxin-response element (DRE) AHR activity from DRE-dependent xenobiotic gene expression. The partial AHR agonist α-naphthoflavone (αNF) mediates the suppressive, non-DRE dependent effects on SAA1 expression and partial DRE-mediated CYP1A1 induction. These observations suggest that αNF may be structurally modified to a derivative exhibiting only SAhRM activity. A screen of αNF derivatives identifies 3′,4′-dimethoxy-αNF (DiMNF) as a candidate SAhRM. Competitive ligand binding validates DiMNF as anAHRligand, and DRE-dependent reporter assays with quantitative mRNA analysis of AHR target genes reveal minimal agonist activity associated with AHR binding. Consistent with loss of agonist activity, DiMNF fails to promote AHR binding to DRE probes as determined through electromobility shift assay. Importantly, mRNA analysis indicates that DiMNF retains the suppressive capacity of αNF regarding cytokine-mediated SAA1 expression in Huh7 cells. Interestingly, predictive docking modeling suggests that DiMNF adopts a unique orientation within the AHR ligand binding pocket relative to αNF and may facilitate the rational design of additional SAhRMs. Microarray studies with a non-DRE binding but otherwise functional AHR mutant identified complement factor C3 as a potential SAhRM target. We confirmed this observation in Huh7 cells using 10 μM DiMNF, which significantly repressed C3mRNAand protein. These data expand the classes of AHR ligands exerting DRE-independent anti-inflammatory SAhRM activity, suggesting SAhRMs may have application in the amelioration of inflammatory disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-519
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Suppression of cytokine-mediated complement factor gene expression through selective activation of the Ah receptor with 3′,4′-dimethoxy- α-naphthoflavone'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this