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J Biol Chem. 1996 Apr 19;271(16):9550-9.

The human glucocorticoid receptor beta isoform. Expression, biochemical properties, and putative function.

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Laboratory of Integrative Biology , National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Alternative splicing of the human glucocorticoid receptor (hGR) primary transcript produces two receptor isoforms, hGRalpha and hGRbeta, which differ at their carboxyl termini. The hGRalpha isoform conveys endocrine information to target tissues by altering patterns of gene expression in a hormone-dependent fashion. In contrast to hGRalpha, very little is known about the hGRbeta splice variant. Using hGRalpha- and hGRbeta-specific riboprobes on human multiple tissue Northern blots, we show that the hGRbeta message has a widespread tissue distribution. We also prove by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction that the alternative splicing event underlying the formation of the hGRbeta message occurs in these tissues. Because the hGRbeta protein differs from hGRalpha at the extreme COOH terminus, we investigated several of the biochemical properties of hGRbeta expressed in transfected cells. hGRbeta does not bind the glucocorticoid agonist dexamethasone nor the glucocorticoid antagonist RU38486 in vivo. Moreover, in contrast to hGRalpha, hGRbeta is located primarily in the nucleus of transfected cells independent of hormone administration. Finally, in the absence of hGRalpha, hGRbeta is transcriptionally inactive on a glucocorticoid-responsive enhancer. However, when both isoforms are expressed in the same cell, hGRbeta inhibits the hormone-induced, hGRalpha-mediated stimulation of gene expression. Thus, hGRbeta potentially functions as a dominant negative inhibitor of hGRalpha activity.

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