ARTICLE ABSTRACTPhenobarbital, a nongenotoxic hepatocarcinogen, induces hepatic proliferation and promotes development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in rodents. Nuclear receptor constitutive active/androstane receptor (NR1I3/CAR) regulates the induction and promotion activities of phenobarbital. Here, it is demonstrated that phenobarbital treatment results in dephosphorylation of a tumor suppressor p38 MAPK in the liver of C57BL/6 and C3H/HeNCrlBR mice. The molecular mechanism entails CAR binding and inhibition of the growth arrest and DNA-damage-inducible 45 beta (GADD45B)-MAPK kinase 6 (MKK6) scaffold to repress phosphorylation of p38 MAPK. Phenobarbital-induced hepatocyte proliferation, as determined by BrdUrd incorporation, was significantly reduced in both male and female livers of GADD45B knockout (KO) mice compared with the wild-type mice. The phenobarbital-induced proliferation continued until 48 hours after phenobarbital injection in only the C57BL/6 males, but neither in males of GADD45B KO mice nor in females of C57BL/6 and GADD45B KO mice. Thus, these data reveal nuclear receptor CAR interacts with GADD45B to repress p38 MAPK signaling and elicit hepatocyte proliferation in male mice.Implications: This GADD45B-regulated male-predominant proliferation can be expanded as a phenobarbital promotion signal of HCC development in future studies.Visual Overview: http://mcr.aacrjournals.org/content/molcanres/16/8/1309/F1.large.jpg. Mol Cancer Res; 16(8); 1309–18. ©2018 AACR.