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Open Access Zinc Fingers and Homeoboxes 2 (Zhx2) Regulates Sexually Dimorphic Cyp Gene Expression in the Adult Mouse Liver

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The mammalian cytochrome P450 (Cyp) gene family encodes a large number of structurally related enzymes that catalyze a variety of metabolic and detoxification reactions. The liver is the primary site of Cyp expression in terms of expression levels and number of expressed genes, consistent with this organ’s essential role in metabolism of endogenous and xenobiotic compounds. Many Cyp genes exhibit sexually dimorphic expression. For example, Cyp2a4 is expressed significantly higher in the adult liver of female mice compared to male mice. An exception to this pattern is seen in BALB/cJ mice, where male hepatic Cyp2a4 mRNA levels are substantially elevated compared to male mice of other strains. The Zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 (Zhx2) protein governs the silencing of several genes in the postnatal liver, including α-fetoprotein, H19, and glypican 3. Zhx2 also regulates numerous hepatic genes that govern lipid homeostasis. We previously showed that the Zhx2 gene is mutated in BALB/cJ mice, which led us to consider whether elevated male hepatic Cyp2a4 levels in this strain are due to this Zhx2 mutation. Using mice with a conditional Zhx2 deletion, we show here that the absence of Zhx2 in hepatocytes results in increased Cyp2a4 expression in adult male liver. We extend this finding to show that additional Cyp genes are disregulated in the absence of Zhx2. We also show that mRNA levels of Cyp2a4 and several other female-biased Cyp genes are increased, and male-biased Cyp4a12 is decreased in mouse liver tumors. These data indicate that Zhx2 is a novel regulator of sex-biased Cyp gene expression in the normal and diseased liver.
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Keywords: Cancer; Development; Hepatocyte; Knockout mice; Regeneration; Transcription

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA

Publication date: August 31, 2016

This article was made available online on May 17, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "Zinc fingers and homeoboxes 2 (Zhx2) regulates sexually dimorphic <em>Cyp</em> gene expression in the adult mouse liver".

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  • Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.

    From Volume 16, Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license.

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