Binding-folding induced regulation of AF1 transactivation domain of the glucocorticoid receptor by a cofactor that binds to its DNA binding domain

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25875. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025875. Epub 2011 Oct 7.


Intrinsically disordered (ID) regions of proteins commonly exist within transcription factors, including the N-terminal domain (NTD) of steroid hormone receptors (SHRs) that possesses a powerful activation function, AF1 region. The mechanisms by which SHRs pass signals from a steroid hormone to control gene expression remain a central unresolved problem. The role of N-terminal activation function AF1, which exists in an intrinsically disordered (ID) conformation, in this process is of immense importance. It is hypothesized that under physiological conditions, ID AF1 undergoes disorder/order transition via inter- and intra-molecular communications, which allows AF1 surfaces to interact with specific co-regulatory proteins, critical for the final outcome of target gene expression regulated by SHRs. However, the means by which AF1 acquires functionally folded conformations is not well understood. In this study, we tested whether binding of jun dimerization protein 2 (JDP2) within the DNA binding domain (DBD) of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) leads to acquisition of functionally active structure in its AF1/NTD. Our results show that signals mediated from GR DBD:JDP2 interactions in a two domain GR fragment, consisting of the entire NTD and little beyond DBD, significantly increased secondary/tertiary structure formation in the NTD/AF1. This increased structure formation facilitated AF1's interaction with specific co-regulatory proteins and subsequent glucocorticoid response element-mediated AF1 promoter:reporter activity. These results support the hypothesis that inter- and intra-molecular signals give a functionally active structure(s) to the GR AF1, which is important for its transcriptional activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 1 / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • TATA-Box Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation*


  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • Repressor Proteins
  • TATA-Box Binding Protein
  • DNA
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 1