HepG2 cells that stably overexpress PPARalpha were used to examine the regulation of the two known human CYP4A genes by Wy14643. Specific PCR amplification across intron 5 and restriction endonuclease analysis indicated that HepG2 cells possess genes corresponding to both the CYP4A11 cDNA and a more recently characterized gene, CYP4A22, that exhibits 95% identity to CYP4A11 in the coding region. These are unlikely to represent alleles because both genes were present in DNA samples from 100 of 100 individuals. Quantitative real-time PCR determined that CYP4A22 mRNA is expressed at significantly lower levels than CYP4A11 mRNA in human liver samples. The PPARalpha agonist Wy14643 induced CYP4A11 mRNA in confluent cultures of HepG2 cells stably expressing the murine PPARalpha-E282G mutant. This mutant exhibits a significantly decreased ligand-independent trans-activation and can be activated by Wy14643 to a level similar to that of wild-type PPARalpha. Dexamethasone induced CYP4A11 mRNA in both control and PPARalpha- E282G-expressing HepG2 cells, indicating that the induction of CYP4A11 by dexamethasone is independent of elevated PPARalpha expression. Wy14643 or dexamethasone induction of CYP4A22 mRNA was not evident in either control or PPARalpha -E282G-expressing HepG2 cells. The results indicate that CYP4A11 expression can be induced by glucocorticoids and peroxisome proliferators.