The structural basis of direct glucocorticoid-mediated transrepression

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2013 Jan;20(1):53-8. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2456. Epub 2012 Dec 9.


A newly discovered negative glucocorticoid response element (nGRE) mediates DNA-dependent transrepression by the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) across the genome and has a major role in immunosuppressive therapy. The nGRE differs dramatically from activating response elements, and the mechanism driving GR binding and transrepression is unknown. To unravel the mechanism of nGRE-mediated transrepression by the GR, we characterized the interaction between GR and an nGRE in the thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) promoter. We show using structural and mechanistic approaches that nGRE binding is a new mode of sequence recognition by human GR and that nGREs prevent receptor dimerization through a unique GR-binding orientation and strong negative cooperativity, ensuring the presence of monomeric GR at repressive elements.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / genetics
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid / metabolism*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Response Elements*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Cytokines
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Glucocorticoid
  • DNA
  • thymic stromal lymphopoietin

Associated data

  • PDB/4HN5
  • PDB/4HN6