Nuclear hormone receptors C


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Nuclear receptors are specialised transcription factors with commonalities of sequence and structure, which bind as homo- or heterodimers to specific consensus sequences of DNA (response elements) in the promoter region of particular target genes. They regulate (either promoting or repressing) transcription of these target genes in response to a variety of endogenous ligands. Endogenous agonists are hydrophobic entities which, when bound to the receptor promote conformational changes in the receptor to allow recruitment (or dissociation) of protein partners, generating a large multiprotein complex.

Two major subclasses of nuclear receptors with identified endogenous agonists can be identified: steroid and non-steroid hormone receptors. Steroid hormone receptors function typically as dimeric entities and are thought to be resident outside the nucleus in the unliganded state in a complex with chaperone proteins, which are liberated upon agonist binding. Migration to the nucleus and interaction with other regulators of gene transcription, including RNA polymerase, acetyltransferases and deacetylases, allows gene transcription to be regulated. Non-steroid hormone receptors typically exhibit a greater distribution in the nucleus in the unliganded state and interact with other nuclear receptors to form heterodimers, as well as with other regulators of gene transcription, leading to changes in gene transcription upon agonist binding.

Selectivity of gene regulation is brought about through interaction of nuclear receptors with particular consensus sequences of DNA, which are arranged typically as repeats or inverted palindromes to allow accumulation of multiple transcription factors in the promoter regions of genes.

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NC-IUPHAR subcommittee and family contributors

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How to cite this family page

Database page citation:

John Cidlowski, Thomas Burris. Nuclear hormone receptors. Accessed on 24/05/2018. IUPHAR/BPS Guide to PHARMACOLOGY,

Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY citation:

Alexander SPH, Cidlowski JA, Kelly E, Marrion NV, Peters JA, Faccenda E, Harding SD, Pawson AJ, Sharman JL, Southan C, Davies JA; CGTP Collaborators. (2017) The Concise Guide to PHARMACOLOGY 2017/18: Nuclear hormone receptors. Br J Pharmacol. 174 Suppl 1: S208-S224.