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Membrane-initiated nuclear trafficking of the glucocorticoid receptor in hypothalamic neurons

Rainville, J. R., Weiss, G. L., Evanson, N., Herman, J. P., Vasudevan, N. and Tasker, J. G. (2019) Membrane-initiated nuclear trafficking of the glucocorticoid receptor in hypothalamic neurons. Steroids, 142. pp. 55-64. ISSN 0039-128X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.steroids.2017.12.005


Glucocorticoid binding to the intracellular glucocorticoid receptor (GR) stimulates the translocation of the GR from the cytosol to the nucleus, which leads to the transactivation or transrepression of gene transcription. However, multiple lines of evidence suggest that glucocorticoid signaling can also be initiated from the plasma membrane. Here, we provide evidence for membrane-initiated glucocorticoid signaling by a membrane-impermeant dexamethasone-bovine serum albumin (Dex-BSA) conjugate, which induced GR nuclear trafficking in hypothalamic neurons in vitro and in vivo. The GR nuclear translocation induced by a membrane-impermeant glucocorticoid suggests trafficking of an unliganded GR. The membrane-initiated GR trafficking was not blocked by inhibiting ERK MAPK, p38 MAPK, PKA, Akt, Src kinase, or calcium signaling, but was inhibited by Akt activation. Short-term exposure of hypothalamic neurons to dexamethasone (Dex) activated the glucocorticoid response element (GRE), suggesting transcriptional transactivation, whereas exposure to the Dex-BSA conjugate failed to activate the GRE, suggesting differential transcriptional activity of the liganded compared to the unliganded GR. Microarray analysis revealed divergent transcriptional regulation by Dex-BSA compared to Dex. Together, our data suggest that signaling from a putative membrane glucocorticoid receptor induces the trafficking of unliganded GR to the nucleus, which elicits a pattern of gene transcription that differs from that of the liganded receptor. The differential transcriptional signaling by liganded and unliganded receptors may contribute to the broad range of genetic regulation by glucocorticoids, and may help explain some of the different off-target actions of glucocorticoid drugs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
ID Code:74607
Uncontrolled Keywords:Genomic, Glucocorticoid receptor, Hypothalamus, Membrane signaling, Nongenomic, Nuclear translocation


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