Using RT-PCR with degenerated primers followed by screening of a rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) intestinal cDNA library, we have isolated from the rainbow trout a new corticosteroid receptor which shows high sequence homology with other glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), but is clearly different from the previous trout GR (named rtGR1). Phylogenetic analysis of these two sequences and other GRs known in mammals, amphibians and fishes indicate that the GR duplication is probably common to most teleost fish. The open reading frame of this new trout GR (named rtGR2) encodes a protein of 669 amino acids and in vitro translation produces a protein of 80 kDa that appears clearly different from rtGR1 protein (88 kDa). Using rtGR2 cDNA as a probe, a 7.3 kb transcript was observed in various tIssues suggesting that this gene would lead to expression of a steroid receptor. In vitro studies were used to further characterize this new corticosteroid receptor. Binding studies with recombinant rtGR1 and rtGR2 proteins show that the two receptors have a similar affinity for dexamethasone (GR1 K(d)=5.05+/-0.45 nM; GR2 K(d)=3.04+/-0.79 nM). Co-transfection of an rtGR1 or rtGR2 expression vector into CHO-K1 or COS-7 cells, along with a reporter plasmid containing multiple consensus glucocorticoid response elements, shows that both clones are able to induce transcriptional activity in the presence of cortisol and dexamethasone. Moreover, at 10(-)(6 )M 11-deoxycortisol and corticosterone partially induced rtGR2 transactivation activity but were without effect on rtGR1. The other major teleost reproductive hormones, as well as a number of their precursors or breakdown products of these and corticosteroid hormones, were without major effects on either receptor. Interestingly, rtGR2 transactivational activity was induced at far lower concentrations of dexamethasone or cortisol (cortisol EC(50)=0.72+/-0.87 nM) compared with rtGR1 (cortisol EC(50)=46+/-12 nM). Similarly, even though RU486 inhibited transactivation activity in both rtGR1 and rtGR2, rtGR1 was more sensitive to this GR antagonist. Altogether, these results indicate that these two GR sequences encode for two functionally distinct GRs acting as ligand-inducible transcription factors in rainbow trout.
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