The origin and functions of multiple human glucocorticoid receptor isoforms

Z. L U Nick, John A. Cidlowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Glucocorticoid hormones are necessary for life and are essential in all aspects of human health and disease. The actions of glucocorticoids are mediated by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), which binds glucocorticoid hormones and regulates gene expression, cell signaling, and homeostasis. Decades of research have focused on the mechanisms of action of one isoform of GR, GRα. However, in recent years, increasing numbers of human GR (hGR) isoforms have been reported. Evidence obtained from this and other laboratories indicates that multiple hGR isoforms are generated from one single hGR gene via mutations and/or polymorphisms, transcript alternative splicing, and alternative translation initiation. Each hGR protein, in turn, is subject to a variety of posttranslational modifications, and the nature and degree of posttranslational modification affect receptor function. We summarize here the processes that generate and modify various hGR isoforms with a focus on those that impact the ability of hGR to regulate target genes. We speculate that unique receptor compositions and relative receptor proportions within a cell determine the specific response to glucocorticoids. Unchecked expression of some isoforms, for example hGRβ, has been implicated in various diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-123
Number of pages22
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
StatePublished - 2004


  • Alternative splicing
  • Glucocorticoid receptor isoforms
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptor mobility
  • Ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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