The Journal of biological chemistry

Functional probing of the human glucocorticoid receptor steroid-interacting surface by site-directed mutagenesis. Gln-642 plays an important role in steroid recognition and binding.

PMID 10747884


To elucidate which amino acids in the glucocorticoid receptor ligand-binding domain might be involved in determining steroid binding specificity by interaction with the D-ring of glucocorticoids, we have performed site-directed mutagenesis of the four amino acids Met-560, Met-639, Gln-642, and Thr-739 based on their proximity to the steroid in a model structure. Mutations of these residues affected steroid binding affinity, specificity, and/or steroid-dependent transactivation. The results indicate that these residues are located in close proximity to the ligand and appear to play a role in steroid recognition and/or transactivating sensitivity, possibly by changes in the steroid-dependent conformational change of this region, resulting in the formation of the AF-2 site. Mutation of Gln-642 resulted in a marked decrease in affinity for steroids containing a 17alpha-OH group. This effect was alleviated by the presence of a 16alpha-CH(3) group to a varying degree. Thr-739 appears to form a hydrogen bond with the 21-OH group of the steroid, as well as possibly forming hydrophobic interactions with the steroid. Met-560 and Met-639 appear to form hydrophobic interactions with the D-ring of the steroid, although the nature of these interactions cannot be characterized in more detail at this point.