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We previously reported that NR2E3, an orphan nuclear receptor, plays an important role in maintaining the basal expression of estrogen receptor α (ER) and that the NR2E3 level is highly correlated with the relapse-free survival of breast cancer patients. Here, we investigated the role of NR2E3 in benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)-mediated cell injury. BaP treatment reduced NR2E3 homo-dimer formation and expression and subsequently decreased ER expression. The chromatin immunoprecipitation assay results showed that the treatment of MCF-7 breast cancer cells and the mouse liver with BaP released NR2E3 from the ER promoter to transform the transcriptionally active histone modification status into a repressive state. NR2E3 depletion in MCF-7 cells also induced a similar inactive epigenetic status in the ER promoter region, indicating that NR2E3 is an essential epigenetic player that maintains basal ER expression. Interestingly, these negative effects of BaP on the expression levels of NR2E3 and ER were rescued by antioxidant treatment. Collectively, our study provides novel evidence to show that BaP-induced oxidative stress decreases ER expression, in part by regulating NR2E3 function, which modulates the epigenetic status of the ER promoter. NR2E3 is likely an essential epigenetic player that maintains basal ER expression to protect cells from BaP-induced oxidative injury. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Tilak Khanal, Dasom Kim, Abby Johnson, Divaker Choubey, Kyounghyun Kim. Deregulation of NR2E3, an orphan nuclear receptor, by benzo(a)pyrene-induced oxidative stress is associated with histone modification status change of the estrogen receptor gene promoter. Toxicology letters. 2015 Sep 17;237(3):228-36

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PMID: 26149760

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