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Background: The aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor is involved in the induction of several enzymes that participate in xenobiotic metabolism. The ligand-free, cytosolic form of the Ah receptor is complexed to heat shock protein 90. Binding of ligand, which includes dioxin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, results in translocation of the ligand-binding subunit only to the nucleus. Induction of enzymes involved in xenobiotic metabolism occurs through binding of the ligand-bound Ah receptor to xenobiotic responsive elements in the promoters of genes for these enzymes. This gene encodes a protein that forms a complex with the ligand-bound Ah receptor, and is required for receptor function. The encoded protein has also been identified as the beta subunit of a heterodimeric transcription factor, hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1). A t(1,12)(q21,p13) translocation, which results in a TEL-ARNT fusion protein, is associated with acute myeloblastic leukemia. Three alternatively spliced variants encoding different isoforms have been described for this gene.