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Concept: Response element


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.

Concepts: Immune system, Transcription factor, Nuclear receptor, Glucocorticoid receptor, Selective glucocorticoid receptor agonist, Response element, Hormone response element, Transrepression


Two cDNAs of RXR were isolated, for the first time, from the ivory shell, Babylonia japonica, and the transcriptional activities were tested in vitro to compare with other gastropod (Thais clavigera and Nucella lapillus) RXR isoforms. The transcriptional activities of all of these RXR isoforms were significantly induced by mammalian RXR agonist, 9-cis retinoic acid (9cRA). The transcriptional activity of T. clavigera RXR-1 was also examined by using 9cRA and 16 organotin compounds, and significant ligand-dependent transactivations were observed by 9cRA and 5 organotins (tributyltin (TBT), tetrabutyltin (TeBT), tripropyltin (TPrT), tricyclohexyltin (TcHT) and triphenyltin (TPhT)). These 5 organotins also induced significant transcriptional activities in N. lapillus and B. japonica RXR isoforms. These 4 organotins, except for TeBT, have been reported to promote the development of imposex after a month of a single injection each, using female T. clavigera. To investigate the function of gastropod RXR isoforms, the effects of mammalian specific pan-agonist, PA024, and pan-antagonist, HX531, were examined, and significant induction of transcriptional activity by PA024 was demonstrated in these gastropod RXR isoforms. The additions of HX531 significantly suppressed the transcriptional activities of these gastropod RXR isoforms by 9cRA and 5 organotins. Using the mammalian two retinoic acid response elements, the transcriptional activities by 2 agonists, 9cRA and PA024, were different among the RXR isoforms of each gastropod species. With retinoid X response element (RXRE), transcriptional activities of TcRXR-1, BjRXR-1, and NlRXRa were significantly higher than those of TcRXR-2, BjRXR-2, and NlRXRb. Transcriptional activities of TcRXR-2, BjRXR-2, and NlRXRb, however, were significantly higher than those of TcRXR-1, BjRXR-1, and NlRXRa with thyroid hormone response element, TREpal. Thus, induction of imposex in prosobranch gastropods is strongly suggested to be triggered by 9cRA and certain organotins, such as TBT and TPhT through the activation of RXRs. These gastropod RXRs might control the different gene transcription by forming homo- or heterodimer complex with their own isoforms. These findings will contribute to our understanding of the fundamentals of the endocrine system in molluscs, particularly on RXR signaling pathway.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Transcription, Hormone, Transcription factor, Dog whelk, Retinoic acid receptor, Response element


Gene regulation resulting from glucocorticoid receptor and glucocorticoid response element interactions is a hallmark feature of stress response signaling. Imbalanced glucocorticoid production and glucocorticoid receptor activity have been linked to socio-economically crippling neuropsychiatric disorders, and accordingly there is a need to develop in vivo models to help understand disease progression and management. Therefore, we developed the transgenic SR4G zebrafish reporter line with six glucocorticoid response elements used to promote expression of a short half-life green fluorescent protein following glucocorticoid receptor activation. Herein, we document the ability of this reporter line to respond to both chronic and acute exogenous glucocorticoid treatment. The green fluorescent protein expression in response to transgene activation was high in a variety of tissues including the brain, and provided single cell resolution in the effected regions. The specificity of these responses is demonstrated using the partial agonist mifepristone and mutation of the glucocorticoid receptor. Importantly, the reporter line also modeled the temporal dynamics of endogenous stress response signaling, including the increased production of the glucocorticoid cortisol following hyperosmotic stress and the fluctuations of basal cortisol concentrations with the circadian rhythm. Taken together, these results characterize our newly developed reporter line for elucidating environmental or genetic modifiers of stress response signaling, which may provide insights to the neuronal mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder.

Concepts: Protein, Gene expression, Green fluorescent protein, Cortisol, Serotonin, Zebrafish, Response element, Hormone response element