Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Steroid hormone receptor prefers working alone to shut off immune system genes

10.12.2012
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have obtained a detailed molecular picture that shows how glucocorticoid hormones shut off key immune system genes.

The finding could help guide drug discovery efforts aimed at finding new anti-inflammatory drugs with fewer side effects.

The results are scheduled for publication Sunday, Dec. 9 by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Synthetic glucocorticoid hormones – for example, prednisone and dexamethasone -- are widely used to treat conditions such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases and cancer. They mimic the action of the natural hormone cortisol, which is involved in the response to stress and in regulating metabolism and the immune system. For this reason, synthetic glucocorticoids have a variety of severe side effects such as increased blood sugar and reduced bone density.

Both cortisol and synthetic hormones act by binding the glucocorticoid receptor, a protein that binds DNA and turns some genes on and others off. The hormone is required for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) to enter the nucleus, giving it access to DNA.

For GR-targeting therapeutics, the desired anti-inflammatory effects are thought to come mainly from turning off inflammatory and immune system genes, while the side effects result from turning on genes involved in processes such as metabolism and bone growth.

The mechanism driving GR anti-inflammatory action has been debated, since was no GR binding site identified near these anti-inflammatory genes. Thus, GRs immunosupression was thought to occur indirectly, whereby GR blocks the ability of other critical DNA-binding proteins to stimulate gene expression. Last year French scientists discovered that the GR turns some immune system genes off directly by recognizing a distinct DNA sequence used only in gene repression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21496643

Eric Ortlund, PhD, Emory assistant professor of biochemistry, and first author William Hudson, a Molecular and Systems Pharmacology graduate student, used X-rays to probe crystals of GR bound to a stretch of DNA where it acts "repressively" to shut down the transcription of immune genes.

When the GR turns genes on, two GR molecules grasp each other while binding to DNA. However, the mode of binding to DNA at repressive sequences had remained unknown. Their analysis demonstrated that GR binds to repressive sites in pairs, but with two monomeric GR molecules located on opposite sides of the DNA helix.

"This unexpected geometry was still a surprise because GR has never been crystallized as a monomer bound to DNA, though previous studies proposed that GR monomers repress genes as opposed to GR dimers, which activate genes," says Ortlund.

In addition, the two GR molecules bind to different DNA sequences within the repressive DNA element, Hudson and Ortlund found. They also analyzed how mutations affected the ability of GR to bind repressive sites, showing that binding of the first GR molecule inhibits the binding of a second GR molecule. This "negative cooperativity" may play a role in ensuring that only GR monomers bind to DNA.

The study suggests that a drug preventing GR from interacting with other GR molecules while still allowing them to bind DNA and turn genes off may have anti-inflammatory effects with fewer side effects. One such plant-based compound, "compound A," has been under investigation by several laboratories.

"Our structural data could help scientists design synthetic hormones that separate these two aspects of GR function, potentially leading to improved steroid hormones for diseases ranging from asthma to autoimmune disorders," says Ortlund.

Grants: startup funds, National Institute of General Medical Sciences 5T32GM008602.

W.H. Hudson, C. Youn and E.A. Ortlund. The structural basis of direct glucocorticoid-mediated transrepression. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol (2012).

Writer: Quinn Eastman

Holly Korschun | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.emory.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>