Aryl hydrocarbon receptor-activating polychlorinated biphenyls and their hydroxylated metabolites induce cell proliferation in contact-inhibited rat liver epithelial cells
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exhibit tumor-promoting effects in experimental animals. We investigated effects of six model PCB congeners and hydroxylated PCB metabolites on proliferation of contact-inhibited rat liver epithelial WB-F344 cells. The 'dioxin-like' PCB congeners, PCB 126, PCB 105, and 4'-OH-PCB 79, a metabolite of the planar PCB 77 congener, induced cell proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner. In contrast, the 'non-dioxin-like' compounds that are not aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonists, PCB 47, PCB 153, and 4-OH-PCB 187, an abundant noncoplanar PCB metabolite, had no effect on cell proliferation at concentrations up to 10 muM. The concentrations of dioxin-like PCBs leading to cell proliferation corresponded with the levels inducing the expression of cytochrome P450 1A1 mRNA, suggesting that the release from contact inhibition was associated with AhR activation. The effects of PCB 126 and PCB 153 on expression of proteins controlling G(0)/G(1)-S-phase transition and S-phase progression were compared. Only PCB 126 was found to upregulate cyclin A and D2 protein levels, and to increase both total cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (cdk2) and cyclin A/cdk2 complex activities. Despite the observed upregulation of cyclin D2, no increase in cdk4 activity was observed. The expression of cdk inhibitor p27(Kip1) was not affected by either PCB 126 or PCB 153. These results suggest that dioxin-like PCBs can induce cell proliferation of contact-inhibited rat liver epithelial cells by increasing cyclin A protein levels, a process that then leads to upregulation of cyclin A/cdk2 activity and initiation of DNA replication. This mechanism could be involved in tumor-promoting effects of dioxin-like PCBs.