DNA-binding by the glucocorticoid receptor: A structural and functional analysis

Karin Dahlman-Wright, Anthony Wright, Jan Carlstedt-Duke, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The glucocorticoid receptor belongs to a family of ligand activated nuclear receptors. This family includes, in addition to the receptors for steroid hormones, receptors for thyroid hormone, retinoic acid and 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 as well as some receptors with as yet unknown ligands. The glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domain has been expressed in E. Coli. The purified protein binds to the same DNA sequences as the native receptor and is therefore suitable for biochemical and structural studies of the DNA-binding function of the receptor protein. This protein has been shown to bind as a dimer to its DNA-binding site. Protein-protein interactions facilitate DNA-binding and a segment responsible for these interactions has been identified close to the C-terminal zinc-binding site. The family of nuclear receptors, with their related DNA-binding sites, provides an opportunity to study determinants for DNA sequence recognition. A segment close to the N-terminal zinc ion has been shown to be responsible for the target specificity of glucocorticoid and estrogen receptors. DNA-binding domains of nuclear receptors include nine conserved cysteine residues which have been shown to coordinate two zinc ions and zinc has been shown to be required for the structural integrity and DNA-binding ability of the glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domain. A motif for DNA recognition, based around zinc ions, was first described for transcription factor IIIA and nuclear receptors were believed to recognize DNA via a similar motif. However, the three-dimensional structure determination of the glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domain shows that its structure is clearly different from that of the TFIIIA type zinc-binding domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-272
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number3-8
StatePublished - Mar 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA-binding by the glucocorticoid receptor: A structural and functional analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this