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Relationship: 972

Title

The title of the KER should clearly define the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream and which is downstream). Consequently all KER titles take the form “upstream KE leads to downstream KE”.  More help

Activation, AhR leads to dimerization, AHR/ARNT

Upstream event
Upstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help
Downstream event
Downstream event in the Key Event Relationship. On the KER page, clicking on the Event name under Upstream Relationship will bring the user to that individual KE page. More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

This table is automatically generated upon addition of a KER to an AOP. All of the AOPs that are linked to this KER will automatically be listed in this subsection. Clicking on the name of the AOP in the table will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Adjacency Weight of Evidence Quantitative Understanding Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation leading to early life stage mortality, via reduced VEGF adjacent High Moderate Arthur Author (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation leading to early life stage mortality, via increased COX-2 adjacent High Moderate Allie Always (send email) Open for citation & comment TFHA/WNT Endorsed
Embryonic Activation of the AHR leading to Reproductive failure, via epigenetic down-regulation of GnRHR adjacent High Moderate Arthur Author (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite

Taxonomic Applicability

Select one or more structured terms that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER. In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER. Authors can indicate the relevant taxa for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 30-31 and 37-38 of User Handbook) More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
Mus musculus Mus musculus High NCBI
Danio rerio Danio rerio High NCBI
rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss High NCBI
Pagrus major Pagrus major High NCBI
Acipenser fulvescens Acipenser fulvescens High NCBI
Salmo salar Salmo salar High NCBI
Acipenser transmontanus Acipenser transmontanus High NCBI
Xenopus laevis Xenopus laevis High NCBI
Ambystoma mexicanum Ambystoma mexicanum High NCBI
Microgadus tomcod Microgadus tomcod High NCBI
human Homo sapiens High NCBI
Gallus gallus Gallus gallus High NCBI
Phasianus colchicus Phasianus colchicus High NCBI
Coturnix japonica Coturnix japonica High NCBI

Sex Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant sex for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of the User Handbook). More help
Sex Evidence
Unspecific High

Life Stage Applicability

Authors can indicate the relevant life stage for this KER in this subsection. The process is similar to what is described for KEs (see pages 31-32 of User Handbook). More help
Term Evidence
All life stages High

Key Event Relationship Description

Provide a brief, descriptive summation of the KER. While the title itself is fairly descriptive, this section can provide details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves (see page 39 of the User Handbook). This description section can be viewed as providing the increased specificity in the nature of upstream perturbation (KEupstream) that leads to a particular downstream perturbation (KEdownstream), while allowing the KE descriptions to remain generalised so they can be linked to different AOPs. The description is also intended to provide a concise overview for readers who may want a brief summation, without needing to read through the detailed support for the relationship (covered below). Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs that are not part of this KER, other KERs or other AOPs. This will ensure that the KER is modular and can be used by other AOPs. More help

In its unliganded form, the AHR is part of a cytosolic complex containing heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), the HSP90 co-chaperone p23 and AHR-interacting protein (AIP) (Fujii-Kuriyama et al. 2010).  Upon ligand binding, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) migrates to the nucleus where it dissociates from the cytosolic complex and forms a heterodimer with AHR nuclear translocator (ARNT) (Mimura and Fujii-Kuriyama 2003).

AhRs can heterodimerize with ARNT1 and ARNT2 isoforms in order to activate reporter constructs in transfected cells and recognize response elements in gel shift assays in all investigated vertebrates, including birds, fishes, and reptiles (Abnet et al 1999; Andreasen et al 2002a; 2002b; Bak et al 2013; Doering et al 2014; Doering et al 2015; Farmahin et al 2012; 2013; Hansson & Hahn 2008; Karchner et al 1999; 2006; Lavine et al 2005; Shoots et al 2015; Tanguay et al 1999; 2000; Wirgin et al 2011). 

Evidence Supporting this KER

Assembly and description of the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP is an important step in the AOP development process that sets the stage for overall assessment of the AOP (see pages 49-56 of the User Handbook). To do this, biological plausibility, empirical support, and the current quantitative understanding of the KER are evaluated with regard to the predictive relationships/associations between defined pairs of KEs as a basis for considering WoE (page 55 of User Handbook). In addition, uncertainties and inconsistencies are considered. More help
Biological Plausibility
Define, in free text, the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream. What are the structural or functional relationships between the KEs? For example, there is a functional relationship between an enzyme’s activity and the product of a reaction it catalyses. Supporting references should be included. However, it is recognised that there may be cases where the biological relationship between two KEs is very well established, to the extent that it is widely accepted and consistently supported by so much literature that it is unnecessary and impractical to cite the relevant primary literature. Citation of review articles or other secondary sources, like text books, may be reasonable in such cases. The primary intent is to provide scientifically credible support for the structural and/or functional relationship between the pair of KEs if one is known. The description of biological plausibility can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured (see page 40 of the User Handbook for further information).   More help

The mechanism of AHR-mediated transcriptional regulation is well understood (Fujii-Kuriyama and Kawajiri 2010).

Numerous PAS proteins are known to interact with each other in response to environmental and developmental cues through dimerization at their PAS domains (Pohjanvirta 2012).

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
In addition to outlining the evidence supporting a particular linkage, it is also important to identify inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship. Additionally, while there are expected patterns of concordance that support a causal linkage between the KEs in the pair, it is also helpful to identify experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. Identification of uncertainties and inconsistencies contribute to evaluation of the overall WoE supporting the AOPs that contain a given KER and to the identification of research gaps that warrant investigation (seep pages 41-42 of the User Handbook).Given that AOPs are intended to support regulatory applications, AOP developers should focus on those inconsistencies or gaps that would have a direct bearing or impact on the confidence in the KER and its use as a basis for inference or extrapolation in a regulatory setting. Uncertainties that may be of academic interest but would have little impact on regulatory application don’t need to be described. In general, this section details evidence that may raise questions regarding the overall validity and predictive utility of the KER (including consideration of both biological plausibility and empirical support). It also contributes along with several other elements to the overall evaluation of the WoE for the KER (see Section 4 of the User Handbook).  More help
  • There are uncertainties in the precise physiological and toxicological roles of different AhR clades (AhR1, AhR2, AhR3) and isoforms (α, β, δ, γ).
  • There are uncertainties in the precise physiological and toxicological roles of different ARNT clades (ARNT1, ARNT2, ARNT3) and isoforms (a, b, c).
  • Nothing is known about differences in binding affinity of AhR for ARNT and of the AhR/ARNT heterodimer for DNA among species and taxa.
  • There is uncertainty in whether anthropogenic contaminants that act as ligands of the AhR and lead to dimerization of AhR with ARNT in vertebrates also act as ligands in invertebrates.
Response-response Relationship
This subsection should be used to define sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs. In particular, information regarding the general form of the relationship (e.g., linear, exponential, sigmoidal, threshold, etc.) should be captured if possible. If there are specific mathematical functions or computational models relevant to the KER in question that have been defined, those should also be cited and/or described where possible, along with information concerning the approximate range of certainty with which the state of the KEdownstream can be predicted based on the measured state of the KEupstream (i.e., can it be predicted within a factor of two, or within three orders of magnitude?). For example, a regression equation may reasonably describe the response-response relationship between the two KERs, but that relationship may have only been validated/tested in a single species under steady state exposure conditions. Those types of details would be useful to capture.  More help
Time-scale
This sub-section should be used to provide information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). This can be useful information both in terms of modelling the KER, as well as for analyzing the critical or dominant paths through an AOP network (e.g., identification of an AO that could kill an organism in a matter of hours will generally be of higher priority than other potential AOs that take weeks or months to develop). Identification of time-scale can also aid the assessment of temporal concordance. For example, for a KER that operates on a time-scale of days, measurement of both KEs after just hours of exposure in a short-term experiment could lead to incorrect conclusions regarding dose-response or temporal concordance if the time-scale of the upstream to downstream transition was not considered. More help
Known modulating factors
This sub-section presents information regarding modulating factors/variables known to alter the shape of the response-response function that describes the quantitative relationship between the two KEs (for example, an iodine deficient diet causes a significant increase in the slope of the relationship; a particular genotype doubles the sensitivity of KEdownstream to changes in KEupstream). Information on these known modulating factors should be listed in this subsection, along with relevant information regarding the manner in which the modulating factor can be expected to alter the relationship (if known). Note, this section should focus on those modulating factors for which solid evidence supported by relevant data and literature is available. It should NOT list all possible/plausible modulating factors. In this regard, it is useful to bear in mind that many risk assessments conducted through conventional apical guideline testing-based approaches generally consider few if any modulating factors. More help
Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
This subsection should define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits? In some cases where feedback processes are measurable and causally linked to the outcome, they should be represented as KEs. However, in most cases these features are expected to predominantly influence the shape of the response-response, time-course, behaviours between selected KEs. For example, if a feedback loop acts as compensatory mechanism that aims to restore homeostasis following initial perturbation of a KE, the feedback loop will directly shape the response-response relationship between the KERs. Given interest in formally identifying these positive or negative feedback, it is recommended that a graphical annotation (page 44) indicating a positive or negative feedback loop is involved in a particular upstream to downstream KE transition (KER) be added to the graphical representation, and that details be provided in this subsection of the KER description (see pages 44-45 of the User Handbook).  More help

Domain of Applicability

As for the KEs, there is also a free-text section of the KER description that the developer can use to explain his/her rationale for the structured terms selected with regard to taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability, or provide a more generalizable or nuanced description of the applicability domain than may be feasible using standardized terms. More help
  • The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) are highly conserved and ancient proteins with homologs having been identified in most major animal groups, apart from the most ancient lineages, such as sponges (Porifera) (Hahn et al 2002). 
  • In vitro dimerization of AhRs and ARNTs have been demonstrated in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, teleost and non-teleost fishes, and some invertebrates (Butler et al 2001; Emmons et al 1999; Hahn et al 2002; Powell-Coffman et al 1998).

References

List of the literature that was cited for this KER description using the appropriate format. Ideally, the list of references should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide (OECD, 2015). More help

1. Fujii-Kuriyama, Y., and Kawajiri, K. (2010). Molecular mechanisms of the physiological functions of the aryl hydrocarbon (dioxin) receptor, a multifunctional regulator that senses and responds to environmental stimuli. Proc. Jpn. Acad. Ser. B Phys. Biol. Sci. 86(1), 40-53.

2. Giesy, J. P., Kannan, K., Blankenship, A. L., Jones, P. D., and Newsted, J. L. (2006). Toxicology of PCBs and related compounds. In Endocrine Disruption Biological Bases for Health Effects in Wildlife and Humans (D.O.Norris and J.A.Carr, Eds.), pp. 245-331. Oxford University Press, New York.

3. Heid, S. E., Walker, M. K., and Swanson, H. I. (2001). Correlation of cardiotoxicity mediated by halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons to aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation. Toxicol. Sci 61(1), 187-196.

4. Hoffman, E. C., Reyes, H., Chu, F. F., Sander, F., Conley, L. H., Brooks, B. A., and Hankinson, O. (1991). Cloning of a factor required for activity of the Ah (dioxin) receptor. Science 252(5008), 954-958.

5. Mimura, J., and Fujii-Kuriyama, Y. (2003). Functional role of AhR in the expression of toxic effects by TCDD. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects 1619(3), 263-268.

6. Poland, A., Glover, E., and Kende, A. S. (1976). Stereospecific, high affinity binding of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin by hepatic cytosol. Evidence that the binding species is receptor for induction of aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase. J. Biol. Chem. 251(16), 4936-4946.

7. Safe, S. (1994). Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): Environmental impact, biochemical and toxic responses, and implications for risk assessment. Critical Reviews in Toxicology 24(2), 87-149.

Andreasen, E.A.; Tanguay, R.L.; Peterson, R.E.; Heideman, W. 2002. Identification of a critical amino acid in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. J. Biol. Chem. 277 (15), 13210-13218.

Bak, S.M.; Lida, M.; Hirano, M.; Iwata, H.; Kim, E.Y. 2013. Potencies of red seabream AHR1- and AHR2-mediated transactivation by dioxins: implications of both AHRs in dioxin toxicity. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47 (6), 2877-2885.

Butler, R.A.; Kelley, M.L.; Powell, W.H.; Hahn, M.E.; Van Beneden, R.J. (2001). An aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) homologue from the soft-shelled clam, Mya arenaria: evidence that invertebrate AHR homologues lack 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and beta-naphthoflavone binding. Gene. 278, 223-234.

Doering, J.A.; Farmahin, R.; Wiseman, S.; Beitel, S.C.; Kennedy, S.W.; Giesy, J.P.; Hecker, M. 2015. Differences in activation of aryl hydrocarbon receptors of white sturgeon relative to lake sturgeon are predicted by identities of key amino acids in the ligand binding domain. Enviro. Sci. Technol. 49, 4681-4689.

Doering, J.A.; Farmahin, R.; Wiseman, S.; Kennedy, S.; Giesy J.P.; Hecker, M. 2014. Functionality of aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AhR1 and AhR2) of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) and implications for the risk assessment of dioxin-like compounds. Enviro. Sci. Technol. 48, 8219-8226.

Elfrink, C.; Gasiewicz, T.; Whitlock, J. (1990). Protein-DNA interactions at a dioxin-responsive enhancer. Evidence that the transformed Ah receptor is heteromeric. J. Biol. Chem. 265, 20708-20712.

Emmons, R.B.; Duncan, D.; Estes, P.A.; Kiefel, P.; Mosher, J.T.; Sonnenfeld, M.; Ward, M.P.; Duncan, I.; Crews, S.T. (1999). The spineless-aristapedia and tango bHLH-PAS proteins interact and control antennal and tarsal development in Drosophilia. Dev. 126, 3937-3945.

Farmahin, R.; Manning, G.E.; Crump, D.; Wu, D.; Mundy, L.J.; Jones, S.P.; Hahn, M.E.; Karchner, S.I.; Giesy, J.P.; Bursian, S.J.; Zwiernik, M.J.; Fredricks, T.B.; Kennedy, S.W. 2013. Amino acid sequence of the ligand-binding domain of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor 1 predicts sensitivity of wild birds to effects of dioxin-like compounds. Toxicol. Sci. 131 (1), 139-152.

Farmahin, R.; Wu, D.; Crump, D.; Herve, J.C.; Jones, S.P.; Hahn, M.E.; Karchner, S.I.; Giesy, J.P.; Bursian, S.J.; Zwiernik, M.J.; Kennedy, S.W. 2012. Sequence and in vitro function of chicken, ring-necked pheasant, and Japanese quail AHR1 predict in vivo sensitivity to dioxins. Enviro. Sci. Toxicol. 46 (5), 2967-2975.

Farmahin, R.; Crump, D.; O’Brien, J.M.; Jones, S.P.; Kennedy, S.W. (2016). Time-dependent transcriptomic and biochemical responses of 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) are explained by AHR activation time. Biochem. Pharmacol. 115 (1), 134-143.

Hahn, M.E. 2002. Aryl hydrocarbon receptors: diversity and evolution. Chemico-Biol. Interact. 141, 131-160.

Hansson, M.C.; Hahn, M.E. 2008. Functional properties of the four Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aryl hydrocarbon receptor type 2 (AHR2) isoforms. Aquat. Toxicol. 86, 121-130.

Karchner, S.I.; Franks, D.G.; Kennedy, S.W.; Hahn, M.E. 2006. The molecular basis for differential dioxin sensitivity in birds: Role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 103, 6252-6257.

Karchner, S.I.; Powell, W.H.; Hahn, M.E. 1999. Identification and functional characterization of two highly divergent aryl hydrocarbon receptors (AHR1 and AHR2) in the Teleost Fundulus heteroclitus. Evidence for a novel subfamily of ligand-binding basic helix loop helix-Per-ARNT-Sim (bHLH-PAS) factors. J. Biol. Chem. 274, 33814-33824.

Lavine, J.A.; Rowatt, A.J.; Klimova, T.; Whitington, A.J.; Dengler, E.; Beck, C.; Powell, W.H. 2005. Aryl hydrocarbon receptors in the frog Xenopus laevis: two AhR1 paralogs exhibit low affinity for 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Toxicol. Sci. 88 (1), 60-72.

Manning G.E.; Farmahin, R.; Crump, D.; Jones, S.P.; Klein, J.; Konstantinov, A.; Potter, D.; Kennedy, S.W. 2012. A luciferase reporter gene assay and aryl hydrocarbon receptor 1 genotype predict the LD50 of polychlorinated biphenyls in avian species. Toxicol. Appl. Pharm. 263, 390-401.

Ohi, H.; Fujita, Y.; Miyao, M.; Saguchi, K.; Murayama, N.; Higuchi, S. 2003. Molecular cloning and expression analysis of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor of Xenopus laevis. Biochem. Biophysic. Res. Comm. 307 (3), 595-599.

Powell-Coffman, J.A.; Bradfield, C.A.; Wood, W.B. (1998). Caenorhabditis elgans orthologs of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and its dimerization partner the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 95, 2844-2449.

Shoots, J.; Fraccalvieri, D.; Franks, D.G.; Denison, M.S.; Hahn, M.E.; Bonati, L.; Powell, W.H. 2015. An aryl hydrocarbon receptor from the salamander Ambystoma mexicanum exhibits low sensitivity to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Enviro. Sci. Technol. 49, 6993-7001.

Swanson, H.; Tullis, K.; Denison, M. (1993). Binding of transformed Ah receptor complex to a dioxin responsive transcriptional enhancer: evidence for two distinct heterodimeric DNA-binding forms. Biochem. 32, 12841-12849.

Tanguay, R.L.; Abnet, C.C.; Heideman, W. Peterson, R.E. (1999). Cloning and characterization of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) aryl hydrocarbon receptor1. Biochimica et Biophysica Act 1444, 35-48.

Tanguay, R.L.; Andreasen, E.; Heideman, W.; Peterson, R.E. (2000). Identification and expression of alternatively spliced aryl hydrocarbon nuclear translocator 2 (ARNT2) cDNAs from zebrafish with distinct functions. BBA. 1494 (1-2), 117-128.

Okey, A. (2007). An aryl hydrocarbon receptor odyssey to the shores of toxicology: the deichmann Lecture, International Congress of Toxicology-XI. Toxicol. Sci. 98, 5-38.

Wirgin, I.; Roy, N.K.; Loftus, M.; Chambers, R.C.; Franks, D.G.; Hahn, M.E. 2011. Mechanistic basis of resistance to PCBs in Atlantic tomcod from the Hudson River. Science. 331, 1322-1324.