Schnekenburger M, Peng L, Puga A
Metabolic bioactivation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as the environmental procarcinogen benzo[a]pyrene, is catalyzed by a cytochrome P450 monooxygenase encoded by the substrate-inducible Cyp1a1 gene. Cyp1a1 induction requires trans-activation by the heterodimeric transcriptional complex formed by the liganded Ah receptor (AHR) and its partner, ARNT. Previously, we showed that constitutively bound HDAC1 dissociates from Cyp1a1 promoter chromatin after ligand-mediated induction, concomitantly with the recruitment of AHR/ARNT complexes and p300. Here, we investigated the hypothesis that HDAC1 binding maintains the Cyp1a1 gene in a silenced state in uninduced cells. We find that Cyp1a1 induction by the AHR/ARNT is associated with modification of specific chromatin marks, including hyperacetylation of histone H3K14 and H4K16, trimethylation of histone H3K4, and phosphorylation of H3S10. HDAC1 and DNMT1 form complexes on the Cyp1a1 promoter of uninduced cells but HDAC1 inhibition alone is not sufficient to induce Cyp1a1 expression, although it allows for the hyperacetylation of H3K14 and H4K16 to levels similar to those found in B[a]P-induced cells. These results show that by blocking the modification of histone marks, HDAC1 plays a central role in Cyp1a1 expression and that its removal is a necessary but not sufficient condition for Cyp1a1 induction, underscoring the requirement for a concerted series of chromatin-remodeling events to complete the initial steps of gene trans-activation by the Ah receptor.