Endocrine Abstracts (2013) 32 P725 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.32.P725

Nuclear receptor 'master' coactivators of physiology and pathology

Bert O’Malley


Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.


Nuclear receptors control gene expression by recruiting transcriptional coactivators (or corepressors). The coactivators are ‘master regulators’ that coordinately activate multiple distinct transcription factors and target genes and pathways to control major physiologic processes such as reproduction, inflammation, metabolism and growth. Because of their central role as ‘nodes’ of regulation, coactivators are major targets in the development of numerous inherited and acquired endocrine-related pathologies such as infertility, endometriosis, disorders of carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism, and numerous cancers. Metabolism and growth are especially prominent pathways for coordinate regulation by coactivators such as SRC-2 and SRC-3. The pleiotropic functions of coactivators in pathways are the result of combinatorial posttranslational modifications of the proteins via enzyme cascades, in conjunction with certain biological isoforms of the proteins. In metabolic diseases and cancers, the intracellular concentrations and the PTM-directed ‘activities’ of the coactivator proteins are critical for ‘driving’ the transcription-dependent physiological outcomes, However, in the case of the cancer cell’s motility or in endometriosis, it is the coactivator protein’s isoforms that are the major mediators of the disease progression. Thus, as a class, the coactivator proteins provide important insights to polygenic diseases. They also may represent new ‘first-in-class’ types of potential targets for therapeutic intervention.

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