Analysis of FK506, timcodar (VX-853) and FKBP51 and FKBP52 chaperones in control of glucocorticoid receptor activity and phosphorylation

Terry D. Hinds, Lance A. Stechschulte, Fadel Elkhairi, Edwin R. Sanchez

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14 Scopus citations


The immunosuppressive ligand FK506 and the FK506-binding protein FKBP52 are stimulatory to glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activity. Here, we explore the underlying mechanism by comparing GR activity and phosphorylation status in response to FK506 and the novel nonimmunosuppressive ligand timcodar (VX-853) and in the presence and absence of FKBP52 and the closely related protein FKBP51. Using mouse embryonic fibroblast cells (MEFs) deficient knockout (KO) in FKBP51 or FKBP52, we show decreased GR activity at endogenous genes in 52KO cells, but increased activity in 51KO cells. In 52KO cells, elevated phosphorylation occurred at inhibitory serine 212 and decreased phosphorylation at the stimulatory S220 residue. In contrast, 51KO cells showed increased GR phosphorylation at the stimulatory residues S220 and S234. In wild-type (WT) MEF cells, timcodar, like FK506, potentiated dexamethasone-induced GR transcriptional activity at two endogenous genes. Using 52KO and 51KO MEF cells, FK506 potentiated GR activity in 51KO cells but could not do so in 52KO cells, suggesting FKBP52 as the major target of FK506 action. Like FK506, timcodar potentiated GR in 51KO cells, but it also increased GR activity in 52KO cells. Knock-down of FKBP51 in the 52KO cells showed that the latter effect of timcodar required FKBP51. Thus, timcodar appears to have a dual specificity for FKBP51 and FKBP52. This work demonstrates phosphorylation as an important mechanism in FKBP control of GR and identifies the first nonimmunosuppressive macrolide capable of targeting GR action.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00076
JournalPharmacology Research and Perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the Stranahan Endowment for Oncologic Research, Department of Urology UTCOM awarded to E. R. S., and by a National Institutes of Health grant [DK70127] (E. R. S.). L. A. S. was supported in part by a Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research Hiss Foundation Fellowship. T. D. H. was supported by a National Institutes of Health PRIDE grant [HL106365].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Authors. Pharmacology Research & Perspectives published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, British Pharmacological Society and American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.


  • Ligands
  • neuroprotection
  • nuclear hormone receptors
  • posttranslational modification
  • regenerative medicine
  • steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (all)


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