Targeted ablation reveals a novel role of FKBP52 in gene-specific regulation of glucocorticoid receptor transcriptional activity

Irene M. Wolf, Sumudra Periyasamy, Terry Hinds, Weidong Yong, Weinian Shou, Edwin R. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


FKBP52 is a tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) protein with peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity and is found in steroid receptor complexes, including glucocorticoid receptor (GR). It is generally accepted that FKBP52 has a stimulatory effect on GR transcriptional activity. However, the mechanism by which FKBP52 controls GR is not yet clear, with reports showing effects on GR hormone-binding affinity and/or hormone-induced nuclear translocation. To address this issue, we have generated mice with targeted ablation of the FKBP52 gene. To date, no overt defects of GR-regulated physiology have been found in these animals, demonstrating that FKBP52 is not an essential regulator of global GR activity. To better assess the impact of FKBP52 on GR, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were generated from wild-type (WT) and FKBP52-deficient (KO) animals. Analysis of GR activity at reporter genes showed an approximate 70% reduction of activity in 52KO MEF cells, with no effect of FKBP52 loss on thyroid receptor. Interestingly, GR activity at endogenous genes was not globally affected in 52KO cells, with reduced activity at GILZ and FKBP51, but not at SGK and p21. Thus, FKBP52 appears to be a gene-specific modulator of GR. To investigate the mechanism of this action, analyses of GR heterocomplex composition, hormone-binding affinity, and ability to undergo hormone-induced nuclear translocation and DNA-binding were performed. Interestingly, no effect of FKBP52 loss was found for any of these GR properties, suggesting that the main function of FKBP52 is a heretofore-unknown ability to control GR activity at target genes. Lastly, loss of FKBP52 did not affect the ability of GR to undergo hormone-induced autologous down-regulation, showing that FKBP52 does not contribute to all branches of GR signaling. The implications of these results to the potential actions of FKBP52 on GR activity in vivo are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Drs. Michael Chinkers (University of South Alabama) and Jack Bodwell (Dartmouth University) for the gifts of PP5 and FiGR antibodies, respectively. We also acknowledge the generosity of Dr. Ronald Koenig (University of Michigan) for the gift of TR and RXR expression plasmids. This study was supported, in part, by a National Institute of Health grant (DK70127) to E.R.S. and W.S.


  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Steroid
  • Tetratricopeptide repeat protein: FKBP52
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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