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Endocrinology. 1995 Sep;136(9):3774-83.

Cloning of a teleost fish glucocorticoid receptor shows that it contains a deoxyribonucleic acid-binding domain different from that of mammals.

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Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0645, USA.


In the teleost fish, physiological and biochemical studies suggest that glucocorticoids regulate both salt balance and metabolic activities. In mammals, however, these functions are divided between glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. In mammals, separate receptors for these two classes of steroid hormone have been cloned and sequenced. To begin to understand the regulation in fish of the vital processes ascribed to glucocorticoids, we have cloned, sequenced, expressed, and studied the steroid-binding and transcriptional activation capabilities of the rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss) glucocorticoid receptor. Northern blot analysis shows a single rainbow trout GR messenger RNA species of 7.5 kilobases expressed in gill, intestine, skeletal muscle, kidney, and liver. The trout GR 2274-nucleotide coding sequence provides for a protein of 758 amino acids, with appropriate similarities to mammalian GR, with one striking exception. As in other members of the steroid/thyroid/retinoid receptor family, the DNA-binding domain contains two putative zinc fingers. These have high homology with those of other GRs. However, between the zinc fingers in the trout GR are found 9 more amino acids than are seen in mammalian GRs, raising questions as to the functional form of the fish, as opposed to the mammalian, GR. It has been proposed that as fish appear to use glucocorticoids for both metabolic and salt control, presumably through a single GR, GR would prove to be the evolutionary precursor to mammalian GR and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Computer analysis of the known sequences of GRs and MRs, however, suggests that the fish GR did not give rise to the MR of higher animals, but that both subfamilies of receptor arose from some earlier gene.

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