The three-dimensional structure of the DNA-binding domain (DBD) of the glucocorticoid receptor has been determined by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and distance geometry. The structure of a 71-residue protein fragment containing two "zinc finger" domains is based on a large set of proton-proton distances derived from nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectra, hydrogen bonds in previously identified secondary structure elements, and coordination of two zinc atoms by conserved cysteine residues. The DBD is found to consist of a globular body from which the finger regions extend. A model of the dimeric complex between the DBD and the glucocorticoid response element is proposed. The model is consistent with previous results indicating that specific amino acid residues of the DBD are involved in protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions.
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