Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prednisolone-induced differential gene expression in mouse liver carrying wild type or a dimerization-defective glucocorticoid receptor

Raoul Frijters1, Wilco Fleuren1, Erik JM Toonen3, Jan P Tuckermann5, Holger M Reichardt6, Hans van der Maaden4, Andrea van Elsas3, Marie-Jose van Lierop3, Wim Dokter3, Jacob de Vlieg12 and Wynand Alkema2*

Author affiliations

1 Computational Drug Discovery (CDD), Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences (NCMLS), Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Geert Grooteplein Zuid 26-28, 6525 GA Nijmegen, the Netherlands

2 Department of Molecular Design & Informatics, Schering-Plough, Molenstraat 110, 5342 CC Oss, the Netherlands

3 Department of Immunotherapeutics, Schering-Plough, Molenstraat 110, 5342 CC Oss, the Netherlands

4 Molecular Pharmacology Department, Schering-Plough, Molenstraat 110, 5342 CC Oss, the Netherlands

5 Tuckermann Lab, Leibniz Institute for Age Research - Fritz Lipmann Institute, Beutenbergstraße 11, 07745 Jena, Germany

6 Department of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, University of Göttingen Medical School, Humboldtallee 34, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:359  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-359

Published: 5 June 2010



Glucocorticoids (GCs) control expression of a large number of genes via binding to the GC receptor (GR). Transcription may be regulated either by binding of the GR dimer to DNA regulatory elements or by protein-protein interactions of GR monomers with other transcription factors. Although the type of regulation for a number of individual target genes is known, the relative contribution of both mechanisms to the regulation of the entire transcriptional program remains elusive. To study the importance of GR dimerization in the regulation of gene expression, we performed gene expression profiling of livers of prednisolone-treated wild type (WT) and mice that have lost the ability to form GR dimers (GRdim).


The GR target genes identified in WT mice were predominantly related to glucose metabolism, the cell cycle, apoptosis and inflammation. In GRdim mice, the level of prednisolone-induced gene expression was significantly reduced compared to WT, but not completely absent. Interestingly, for a set of genes, involved in cell cycle and apoptosis processes and strongly related to Foxo3a and p53, induction by prednisolone was completely abolished in GRdim mice. In contrast, glucose metabolism-related genes were still modestly upregulated in GRdim mice upon prednisolone treatment. Finally, we identified several novel GC-inducible genes from which Fam107a, a putative histone acetyltransferase complex interacting protein, was most strongly dependent on GR dimerization.


This study on prednisolone-induced effects in livers of WT and GRdim mice identified a number of interesting candidate genes and pathways regulated by GR dimers and sheds new light onto the complex transcriptional regulation of liver function by GCs.