Heterogeneity of Nuclear Glucocorticoid Receptor Interactions

  • John A. Cidlowski
  • Allan Munck
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 117)


When thymocytes are incubated with glucocorticoids at 37°, 60–70% of the receptor bound steroid is associated with the nucleus. Under conditions where the rate of steroid-receptor formation is not limiting the transfer of steroid-receptors from the cytoplasm to the nucleus occurs rapidly with a T1/2 of 30 seconds. These observations have led us to investigate whether or not all glucocorticoid receptor complexes are associated with the nucleus in the same manner. To this end, nuclear glucocorticoid-receptor complexes have been extracted by differential salt extraction and DNase I and DNase II digestion. Of the nuclear dexamethasone receptor complex initially bound, 70–75% is resistant to 0.2 M KC1 extraction (designated N2) and 25–39% is resistant to 0.4 extraction (designated N4). N2 be further extracted with 0.4 M KC1 whereas N4 is resistant to reextraction with either 0.2 M KC1, suggesting that N2–N4 (N2–4) and N4 represent distinct physical forms of nuclear dexamethasone receptor. In intact cells, N2 and N differ under the following physiological condition. (1) N4 binding occurs prior to N2–4 (2) a cold chase of unlabeled dexamethasone decreases N2–4 by 70% but N4 binding by only 10%; (3) N4 binding decreases mor apidly than N2–4 following a decrease in hormone concentration by dilution; (4) a cold chase of either cortexolone or progesterone preferentially decreases N2–4 and has little effect on N4. In addition, the nuclear N2–4 and N4 distribution differ for cortisol, dexamethasone and triamcinolone acetonide, three steroids having different in vitro biological potencies. DNase I treatment of nuclei solubilizes approximately 60% of nuclear DNA yet releases only 20–30% of nuclear receptor, whereas DNase II solubilizes only 10% of nuclear DNA and releases 75–80% of nuclear receptor. As seen with salt extraction, the resistance of nuclear glucocorticoid-receptor complexes to a DNase I and II is dependent on the steroid molecule which is associated with the receptor. Of the steroids we have tested, nuclear triamcinolone acetonide and dexamethasone receptor complexes are most resistant to nuclease attack. Nuclear cortisol receptor complexes are readily solubilized by either DNase I or II under conditions where little dissociation of steroid from receptor occurs. These data represent evidence for physiologically distinct forms of nuclear glucocorticoid receptor interaction. In addition, they demonstrate the importance of the steroid portion of the steroid receptor in directing the nature and/or location of steroid receptors within or on the nucleus.


Triamcinolone Acetonide Thymus Cell Nuclear Binding Biological Potency Hormone Receptor Complex 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Cidlowski
    • 1
  • Allan Munck
    • 1
  1. 1.Burlington, VT Dartmouth Medical SchoolUniversity of Vermont Medical SchoolHanoverUSA

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