Ligand-selective targeting of the glucocorticoid receptor to nuclear subdomains is associated with decreased receptor mobility

Mol Endocrinol. 2005 Jun;19(6):1501-15. doi: 10.1210/me.2005-0050. Epub 2005 Feb 10.


The association between nuclear distribution and mobility of the human glucocorticoid receptor was examined in living COS-1 cells using yellow fluorescent protein- and cyan fluorescent protein-tagged receptors. Quantitation of the nuclear distribution induced by an array of glucocorticoid ligands revealed a continuum from a random (cortisone) to a nonrandom (triamcinolone acetonide) receptor distribution. Structure-function analysis revealed that the 9-fluoro and 17-hydroxy groups on the steroid significantly impact nuclear receptor distribution. Using time-lapse microscopy, the triamcinolone acetonide-induced receptor distribution did not change significantly over a period of 15 sec. However, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, the individual receptors moved at a much faster rate, indicating rapid exchange of receptors on immobile nuclear subdomains. Receptor mobilities for 13 different steroids, measured by fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, appeared to correlate with receptor distribution. Ligands that induced a nonrandom distribution induced slower receptor mobility and vice versa. Finally, application of 2-photon confocal microscopy revealed differences in receptor mobility between nuclear subdomains. Areas of high receptor concentration showed slower mobility than areas of low receptor concentration. Thus, glucocorticoid receptors can be targeted (depending on the ligand) to relatively immobile nuclear subdomains. The transient association of receptor with these domains decreases the mobility of the receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Binding, Competitive
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cortisone / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Ligands
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Mutagenesis
  • Mutation
  • Photons
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Software
  • Steroids / chemistry
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide / pharmacology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cyan Fluorescent Protein
  • Ligands
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Steroids
  • hydrocortisone receptor
  • triamcinolone acetonide receptor
  • yellow fluorescent protein, Bacteria
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide
  • Cortisone