Determinants for DNA-binding site recognition by the glucocorticoid receptor

Johanna Zilliacus, Anthony P.H. Wright, Ulf Norinder, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Jan Carlstedt-Duke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The glucocorticoid receptor binds with high specificity to glucocorticoid response elements, discriminating them from other closely related binding sites. Three amino acids in the recognition α-helix of the DNA-binding domain of the receptor are primarily responsible for this specific DNA binding activity. In this study we analyze in detail how these residues determine the specific DNA binding by studying a series of mutant glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domains containing all combinations of glucocorticoid and estrogen receptor-specific residues at these positions. Statistical analysis of the results enables us to create models describing the association between amino acids and base pairs. Several strategies appear to be used in accomplishing discrimination between the glucocorticoid and estrogen response elements. Single residues (i.e., Val-443 in the glucocorticoid receptor and Glu-439 in the estrogen receptor) appear to form both positive contacts with specific base pairs in the cognate binding site and negative contacts in the non-cognate site. In the glucocorticoid receptor Ser-440 is pleio-tropically negative for all sites tested but the negative effect is stronger for the estrogen response element thus contributing to binding site discrimination. Furthermore, combinations of amino acids appear to act synergistically, most often causing a reduction in binding to non-cognate sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24941-24946
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number35
StatePublished - Dec 15 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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