Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The human aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that is a pivotal regulator of human physiology and pathophysiology. Allosteric inhibition of AhR was previously thought to be untenable. Here, we identify carvones as noncompetitive, insurmountable antagonists of AhR and characterize the structural and functional consequences of their binding. Carvones do not displace radiolabeled ligands from binding to AhR but instead bind allosterically within the bHLH/PAS-A region of AhR. Carvones do not influence the translocation of ligand-activated AhR into the nucleus but inhibit the heterodimerization of AhR with its canonical partner ARNT and subsequent binding of AhR to the promoter of CYP1A1. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate physiologically relevant Ahr-antagonism by carvones in vivo in female mice. These substances establish the molecular basis for selective targeting of AhR regardless of the type of ligand(s) present and provide opportunities for the treatment of disease processes modified by AhR.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Science, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic.


Skin, Animals, Mice, Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1, Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon, Ligands, Ultraviolet Rays, Female, Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Nuclear Translocator, Promoter Regions, Genetic