PNRC (proline-rich nuclear receptor coregulatory protein) was identified using bovine SF1 (steroidogenic factor 1) as the bait in a yeast two-hybrid screening of a human mammary gland cDNA expression library. PNRC is unique in that it has a molecular mass of 35 kDa, significantly smaller than most of the coregulatory proteins reported so far, and it is proline-rich. PNRC's nuclear localization was demonstrated by immunofluorescence and Western blot analyses. In the yeast two-hybrid assays, PNRC interacted with the orphan receptors SF1 and ERRalpha1 in a ligand-independent manner. PNRC was also found to interact with the ligand-binding domains of all the nuclear receptors tested including estrogen receptor (ER), androgen receptor (AR), glucocorticoid receptor (GR), progesterone receptor (PR), thyroid hormone receptor (TR), retinoic acid receptor (RAR), and retinoid X receptor (RXR) in a ligand-dependent manner. Functional AF2 domain is required for nuclear receptors to bind to PNRC. Furthermore, in vitro glutathione-S-transferase pull-down assay was performed to demonstrate a direct contact between PNRC and nuclear receptors such as SF1. Coimmunoprecipitation experiment using Hela cells that express PNRC and ER was performed to confirm the interaction of PNRC and nuclear receptors in vivo in a ligand-dependent manner. PNRC was found to function as a coactivator to enhance the transcriptional activation mediated by SF1, ERR1 (estrogen related receptor alpha-1), PR, and TR. By examining a series of deletion mutants of PNRC using the yeast two-hybrid assay, a 23-amino acid (aa) sequence in the carboxy-terminal region, aa 278-300, was shown to be critical and sufficient for the interaction with nuclear receptors. This region is proline rich and contains a SH3-binding motif, S-D-P-P-S-P-S. Results from the mutagenesis study demonstrated that the two conserved proline (P) residues in this motif are crucial for PNRC to interact with the nuclear receptors. The exact 23-amino acid sequence was also found in another protein isolated from the same yeast two-hybrid screening study. These two proteins belong to a new family of nuclear receptor coregulatory proteins.