A Rhapsody on the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor: Molecular and Environmental Health Insights Through Novel and Canonical Signaling Pathways
The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor is a ubiquitously expressed, cytosolic transcription factor, which is activated by myriad structurally-diverse xenobiotic compounds, most notably 2,3,7,8-tetrechlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. In this role, the AhR is known to play a fundamental role in several physiological process, for example cell division. Pathologically, the AhR has been identified as a fundamental driver of the toxic effects of numerous persistent, potent, and commonly encountered environmental contaminants. As such, we have investigated the specific role of the AhR in cellular replication during liver regeneration. Based on our findings, we then set out to assess transcriptional targets of the AhR in the mouse liver following exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrechlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Finally, given the toxicities with which the AhR is associated, we undertook studies to quantify PAH contamination in Gulf of Mexico seafood as a result of two recent oil spills in an effort to assess safe seafood consumption levels, given the well-known link between the AhR and its toxic xenobiotic PAH ligands.