Negative regulation by glucocorticoids through interference with a cAMP responsive enhancer

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Science  15 Jul 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4863, pp. 350-353
DOI: 10.1126/science.2838908


Although steroid hormone receptors are known to activate gene expression by binding to specific hormone-dependent enhancers, the mechanisms by which steroids inhibit the transcription of specific genes are unknown. It is shown here by gene transfer studies that the same glucocorticoid receptor that activates gene expression can negatively regulate expression of the human glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit gene. Glucocorticoid inhibition was conferred by a 52-nucleotide region that also contains elements crucial both for adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) responsiveness and for placental-specific expression of this gene and was observed only under conditions in which these elements were functioning as enhancers. Purified glucocorticoid receptor was found to bind to DNA that overlap the cAMP responsive elements sites in this region. It is hypothesized that steroid receptors negatively regulate gene expression by interfering with the activity or binding of other important transcription factors.

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