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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Nov;17(11):6708-16.

Specific DNA binding of Stat5, but not of glucocorticoid receptor, is required for their functional cooperation in the regulation of gene transcription.

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Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, Tumor Biology Center Freiburg, Germany.


Prolactin and glucocorticoid hormone are signals which regulate the transcription of milk protein genes in mammary epithelial cells. We have investigated the molecular mechanisms by which these hormones cooperate in the induction of transcription. Both hormones activate latent transcription factors in the cytoplasm of mammary epithelial cells. Prolactin exerts its effect through binding to the extracellular domain of the prolactin receptor and through receptor dimerization. This leads to the activation of a protein tyrosine kinase (Jak2), which is noncovalently associated with the cytoplasmic domain of the prolactin receptor. Jak2 phosphorylates the signal transducer and transcription activator (Stat5) which causes its dimerization and nuclear translocation where Stat5 specifically binds to sequence elements in the promoter regions of milk protein genes. In comparison, the glucocorticoid receptor is activated by a lipophilic steroid ligand in the cytoplasm which causes allosteric changes in the molecule, dimerization, and nuclear localization. It has been demonstrated that Stat5 and the glucocorticoid receptor form a molecular complex which cooperates in the induction of transcription of the beta-casein gene. We have defined the DNA sequence requirements for this cooperative mechanism and have delimited the functional domains in Stat5 and the glucocorticoid receptor that are necessary for the functional interaction. We find that the Stat5 response element (Stat5RE) within the beta-casein gene promoter is sufficient to elicit the cooperative action of Stat5 and the glucocorticoid receptor on transcription. Activation of Stat5 through phosphorylation of tyrosine 694 is an absolute prerequisite for transcription. Deletion of the transactivation domain of Stat5 results in a molecule which cannot mediate transactivation by itself but can still cooperate with the glucocorticoid receptor. Mutated variants of the glucocorticoid receptor with a nonfunctional DNA binding domain or a DNA binding domain contributed by the estrogen receptor are still able to cooperate with Stat5 in transcriptional induction. Deletion of the ligand binding domain of the glucocorticoid receptor does not impede cooperation with Stat5, whereas deletion of the AF-1 transactivation domain does prevent cooperation. Our results indicate that the glucocorticoid receptor acts as a ligand-dependent coactivator of Stat5 independently of its DNA binding function.

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