Research Interests

We study the activity of the intracellular receptors (IRs), including receptors for glucocorticoids (GR), androgens (AR), and thyroid hormone (TR), in signal transduction and transcriptional control. These hormone-receptor complexes bind to specific DNA sequences termed "hormone response elements", which enhance or repress linked promoters. We have defined IR domains for hormone and DNA binding, dimerization, nuclear localization, phosphorylation, interaction with various cellular factors, and transcriptional regulation. IRs functions faithfully when expressed in simpler organisms such as yeast and Drosophila, thus facilitating genetic analyses of their actions and identification of other factors involved in its activities. We are also pursuing 3D structure analyses of various domains of the receptor, and we employ biochemical strategies with purified components for mechanistic analyses. Thus, using genetic, structural, molecular, and biochemical approaches, we use IRs as "biological probes" to define how a single regulatory protein can specify diverse patterns of specific gene expression in different cellular contexts. These reductionist strategies can be applied increasingly to studies of complex physiological and pathological processes. Thus, we are pursuing: (a) a signaling "crosstalk" pathway in developing T-cells in which activation of the T-cell receptor abrogates glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis; (b) dramatic shifts in AR activity and ligand responses during prostate cancer ontogeny and progression; and (c) the consequences of glutamine repeat expansion in AR, leading to motor neuron degeneration in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy.

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Primary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology

Secondary Section

Section 21: Biochemistry