High-resolution X-ray structures of thyroid hormone (TH) receptor (TR) DNA and ligand binding domains (DBD and LBD) have yielded significant insights into TR action. Nevertheless, the TR DBD and LBD act in concert to mediate TH effects upon gene expression, and TRs form multiple oligomers; however, structures of full-length TRs or DBD-LBD constructs that would clarify these influences are not available. Here, we report low-resolution X-ray structures of the TRβ DBD-LBD construct in solution which define the shape of dimers and tetramers and likely positions of the DBDs and LBDs. The holo TRβ DBD-LBD construct forms a homodimer with LBD-DBD pairs in close contact and DBDs protruding from the base in the same direction. The DBDs are connected to the LBDs by crossed extended D domains. The apo hTRβ DBD-LBD construct forms tetramers that resemble bulged cylinders with pairs of LBD dimers in a head-to-head arrangement with DBD pairs packed tightly against the LBD core. Overall, there are similarities with our previous low-resolution structures of retinoid X receptors, but TRs exhibit two unique features. First, TR DBDs are closely juxtaposed in the dimer and tetramer forms. Second, TR DBDs are closely packed against LBDs in the tetramer, but not the dimer. These findings suggest that TRs may be able to engage in hitherto unknown interdomain interactions and that the D domain must rearrange in different oligomeric forms. Finally, the data corroborate our suggestion that apo TRs form tetramers in solution which dissociate into dimers upon hormone binding.
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