Membrane-initiated Steroid Signaling (MISS): Genomic Steroid Action Starts at the Plasma Membrane

Sabine Daufeldt, Rainer Lanz, Axel Alléra

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003 May;85(1):9-23.

PMID: 12798353


Plasma membrane (PM) steroid recognition sites are thought to be responsible only for rapid, non-genomic responses without any link to the nuclear receptor-mediated genomic effects of steroids. We focused on a PM "glucocorticoid-importer" (GC-importer) that imports GC into rat liver cells. This site interacts also with particular gestagens (progesterone, P; medroxyprogesterone, MP; ethynodiol, Ethy) and estrogens (ethinylestradiol, EE(2); mestranol), which do not bind to the nuclear GC receptor (GR). To elucidate the role of the GC-importer, we transfected a rat wild-type hepatocyte (CC-1) and a hepatoma cell line, unable to import GC (MH 3924), with a GC<-->GR-responsive luciferase (luc)-reporter gene. Selected steroids were tested for their ability to induce or inhibit luc expression. Corticosterone (B) and dexamethasone (Dex), but also the GC-antagonists cortexolone (Cortex), P and MP, induced luc. Even the PM-impermeable BSA-derivatives of B, Dex and Cortex did so to almost the same extent as the free steroids. MH 3924 cells respond stronger than CC-1 to luc inducing steroids. Luc expression was inhibited by RU 38 486, but also by EE(2) and Ethy. The thiol reactive mesylate-derivatives of B, Dex and Cortex induced to a considerably lesser extent than the free or BSA-steroids. The thiol reagent mersalyl blocks cellular entry of GC and inhibits luc induction in CC-1 cells. Incubation with EE(2) and B of PM-vesicles, isolated from liver cells, resulted in a decrease of the density of two 75 and 52kDa G-proteins reflecting a diminished exchange of GDP by GTP.


the PM-residing GC-importer, now renamed "Steroid Hormone Recognition and Effector Complex" (SHREC) is an interdependent part of the complete GC signal propagation in which G-proteins are involved. Free SH-groups of SHREC are a prerequisite for genomic GC activity. Specific interactions between SHREC and GC-agonist/-antagonist trigger steroid-dependent signaling. However, import of the ligand into the cell terminates it. Thus, the PM-related non-genomic steroid responses are clearly linked to the GR-related genomic effects.

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