In humans, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) gene battery constitutes a set of contaminant-responsive genes, which have been recently shown to be involved in the regulation of several patho-physiological conditions, including tumorigenesis. As the domestic dog represents a valuable animal model in comparative oncology, mRNA levels of cytochromes P450 1A1, 1A2 and 1B1 (CYP1A1, 1A2 and 1B1), AHR, AHR nuclear translocator (ARNT), AHR repressor (AHRR, whose partial sequence was here obtained) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) were measured in dog control tissues (liver, skin, mammary gland and bone), in 47 mast cell tumors (MCTs), 32 mammary tumors (MTs), 5 osteosarcoma (OSA) and related surgical margins. Target genes were constitutively expressed in the dog, confirming the available human data. Furthermore, their pattern of expression in tumor biopsies was comparable to that already described in a variety of human cancers; in particular, both AHR and COX2 genes were up-regulated and positively correlated, while CYP1A1 and CYP1A2 mRNAs were generally poorly expressed. This work demonstrated for the first time that target mRNAs are expressed in neoplastic tissues of dogs, thereby increasing the knowledge about dog cancer biology and confirming this species as an useful animal model for comparative studies on human oncology.
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