Role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in cell cycle regulation.
Traditionally, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is considered to be a ligand-activated receptor and transcription factor responsible for the induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes. Its role in the combinatorial matrix of cell functions was neatly established long before the first report of an AHR cDNA sequence was published. Only recently, other functions of this protein have begun to be recognized. This review addresses novel findings relating to AHR functions that have resulted from experimental approaches markedly outside traditional receptor analyses. Here we examine the aspects of AHR biology relevant to its role in cell cycle regulation, from the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases to the cross-talk between AHR and the RAS pathway and the functional significance of the interaction between AHR and the retinoblastoma protein. We have attempted to provide the reader with a balanced interpretation of the evidence, highlighting areas of consensus as well as areas still being contested.