Receptors aryl hydrocarbon
receptors, aryl hydrocarbon
cytoplasmic proteins that bind certain aryl hydrocarbons, translocate to the nucleus, and activate transcription of particular dNA segments. Ah receptors are identified by their high-affinity binding to several carcinogenic or teratogenic environmental chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in cigarette smoke and smog, heterocyclic amines found in cooked foods, and halogenated hydrocarbons including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. No endogenous ligand has been identified, but an unknown natural messenger with a role in cell differentiation and development is suspected.