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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2006 Feb 26;246(1-2):21-33. Epub 2006 Jan 4.

The mitochondrion as a primary site of action of steroid and thyroid hormones: presence and action of steroid and thyroid hormone receptors in mitochondria of animal cells.

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  • 1Foundation for Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens, Center for Basic Research, Athens, Greece.


Mitochondria are key cellular organelles that regulate events related to energy production and apoptosis. These processes are modulated, in turn, by steroid and thyroid hormones in the course of their actions on metabolism, growth and development. In this context, a direct effect of these hormones on the mitochondrial-linked processes, possibly by way of cognate mitochondrial receptors, has been proposed. In this paper we review data from the literature and present new findings supporting this concept. Receptors for steroid hormones, glucocorticoids and estrogens, and for T(3), have been detected in mitochondria by immunofluorescence labeling and confocal laser microscopy, by Western blotting of mitochondrial proteins and by immunogold electron microscopy. Furthermore, the mitochondrial genome contains nucleotide sequences with high similarity to known hormone-responsive elements, which interact with the appropriate receptors to confer hormone-dependent activation of reporter genes in transfection experiments. Thus, thyroid hormone stimulates mitochondrial transcription mediated by the cognate receptor when added to an in organello mitochondrial system, capable of faithful transcription.

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