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J Biol Chem. 2001 Apr 27;276(17):14299-307. Epub 2001 Feb 2.

Heterodimerization of mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors at a novel negative response element of the 5-HT1A receptor gene.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario K1H-8M5, Canada.


Negative regulation of neuronal serotonin (5-HT1A) receptor levels by glucocorticoids in vivo may contribute to depression. Both types I (mineralocorticoid) and II (glucocorticoid) receptors (MR and GR, respectively) participate in corticosteroid-induced transcriptional repression of the 5-HT1A gene; however, the precise mechanism is unclear. A direct repeat 6-base pair glucocorticoid response element (GRE) half-site 5'-TGTCCT separated by 6 nucleotides was conserved in human, mouse, and rat 5-HT1A receptor promoters. In SN-48 neuronal cells that express MR, GR, and 5-HT1A receptors, deletion or inactivation of the nGRE (negative GRE) eliminated negative regulation of the rat 5-HT1A or heterologous promoters by corticosteroids, whereas its inclusion conferred corticosteroid-induced inhibition to a heterologous promoter. Bacterially expressed recombinant MR and GR preferentially bound to the nGRE as a heterodimer, as identified in nuclear extracts of MR/GR-transfected COS-7 cells, and with higher affinity than MR or GR homodimers. In SN48 and COS-7 cells, concentration-dependent coactivation of MR and GR was required for maximal inhibitory action by corticosteroids and was abrogated in the L501P-GR mutant lacking DNA binding activity. Corticosteroid-mediated transcriptional inhibition was greater for MR/GR in combination than for MR or GR alone. These data represent the first identification of an nMRE/GRE and indicate that heterodimerization of MR and GR mediates direct corticosteroid-induced transrepression of the 5-HT1A receptor promoter.

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