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Full transcriptional activation by steroid hormone receptors requires functional synergy between two transcriptional activation domains (AF) located in the amino (AF-1) and carboxyl (AF-2) terminal regions. One possible mechanism for achieving this functional synergy is a physical intramolecular association between amino (N-) and carboxyl (C-) domains of the receptor. Human progesterone receptor (PR) is expressed in two forms that have distinct functional activities: full-length PR-B and the amino-terminally truncated PR-A. PR-B is generally a stronger activator than PR-A, whereas under certain conditions PR-A can act as a repressor in trans of other steroid receptors. We have analyzed whether separately expressed N- (PR-A and PR-B) and C-domains [hinge plus ligand-binding domain (hLBD)] of PR can functionally interact within cells by mammalian two-hybrid assay and whether this involves direct protein contact as determined in vitro with purified expressed domains of PR. A hormone agonist-dependent interaction between N-domains and the hLBD was observed functionally by mammalian two-hybrid assay and by direct protein-protein interaction assay in vitro. With both experimental approaches, N-C domain interactions were not induced by the progestin antagonist RU486. However, in the presence of the progestin agonist R5020, the N-domain of PR-B interacted more efficiently with the hLBD than the N-domain of PR-A. Coexpression of steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC-1) and the CREB binding protein (CBP), enhanced functional interaction between N- and C-domains by mammalian two-hybrid assay. However, addition of SRC-1 and CBP in vitro had no influence on direct interaction between purified N- and C-domains. These results suggest that the interaction between N- and C-domains of PR is direct and requires a hormone agonist-induced conformational change in the LBD that is not allowed by antagonists. Additionally, coactivators are not required for physical association between the N- and C-domains but are capable of enhancing a functionally productive interaction. In addition, the more efficient interaction of the hLBD with the N-domain of PR-B, compared with that of PR-A, suggests that distinct interactions between N- and C-terminal regions contribute to functional differences between PR-A and PR-B.


The final version has been published in Molecular Endocrinology 13: 910-924, 1999.


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