Mechanisms of glucocorticoid signaling
It has become increasingly clear that glucocorticoid signalling not only comprises the binding of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) to its response element (GRE), but also involves indirect regulation glucocorticoid-responsive genes by regulating or interacting with other transcription factors. In addition, they can directly regulate gene expression by binding to negative glucocorticoid response elements (nGREs), to simple GREs, to GREs, or to GREs and GRE half sites (GRE1/2s) that are part of a regulatory unit. A response unit allows a higher level of glucocorticoid induction than simple GREs and, in addition, allows the integration of tissue-specific information with the glucocorticoid response. Presumably, the complexity of such a glucocorticoid response unit (GRU) depends on the number of pathways that integrate at this unit. Because GRUs are often located at distant sites relative to the transcription-start site, the GRU has to find a way to communicate with the basal-transcription machinery. We propose that the activating signal of a distal enhancer can be relayed onto the transcription-initiation complex by coupling elements located proximal to the promoter.
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