The CAR (constitutive androstane receptor; NR1I3) is a critical xenobiotic sensor that regulates xenobiotic metabolism, drug clearance, energy and lipid homoeostasis, cell proliferation and development. Although constitutively active, in hepatocytes CAR is normally held quiescent through a tethering mechanism in the cytosol, anchored to a protein complex that includes several components, including heat-shock protein 90. Release and subsequent nuclear translocation of CAR is triggered through either direct binding to ligand activators such as CITCO {6-(4-chlorophenyl)imidazo[2,1-b][1,3]thiazole-5-carbaldehyde O-(3,4-dichlorobenzyl)oxime} or through indirect chemical activation, such as with PB (phenobarbital). In the present study, we demonstrate that proteasomal inhibition markedly disrupts CAR function, repressing CAR nuclear trafficking, disrupting CAR's interaction with nuclear co-activators and inhibiting induction of CAR target gene responses in human primary hepatocytes following treatment with either PB or CITCO. Paradoxically, these effects occur following accumulation of ubiquitinated hCAR (human CAR). Furthermore, a non-proteolytic function was indicated by its interaction with a SUG1 (suppressor for Gal1), a subunit of the 26S proteasome. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the proteasome complex functions at multiple levels to regulate the functional biology of hCAR activity.

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