Determinants of the heightened activity of glucocorticoid receptor translational isoforms

Ingrid K. Bender, Yun Cao, Nick Z. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Translational isoforms of the glucocorticoid receptor α (GR-A, -B, -C1, -C2, -C3, -D1, -D2, and -D3) have distinct tissue distribution patterns and unique gene targets. The GR-C3 isoform-expressing cells are more sensitive to glucocorticoid killing than cells expressing other GRα isoforms and the GR-D isoform-expressing cells are resistant to glucocorticoid killing. Whereas a lack of activation function 1 (AF1) may underlie the reduced activity of the GR-D isoforms, it is not clear how the GR-C3 isoform has heightened activity. Mutation analyses and N-terminal tagging demonstrated that steric hindrance is probably the mechanism for the GR-A, -B, -C1, and -C2 isoforms to have lower activity than the GR-C3 isoform. In addition, truncation scanning analyses revealed that residues 98 to 115 are critical in the hyperactivity of the human GR-C3 isoform. Chimera constructs linking this critical fragment with the GAL4 DNA-binding domain showed that GR residues 98 to 115 do not contain any independent transactivation activity. Mutations at residues Asp101 or Gln106 and Gln107 all reduced the activity of the GR-C3 isoform. In addition, functional studies indicated that Asp101 is crucial for the GR-C3 isoform to recruit coregulators and to mediate glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. Thus, charged and polar residues are essential components of an N-terminal motif that enhances the activity of AF1 and the GR-C3 isoform. These studies, together with the observations that GR isoforms have cell-specific expression patterns, provide a molecular basis for the tissue-specific functions of GR translational isoforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1577-1587
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology


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