A critical region in the mineralocorticoid receptor for aldosterone binding and activation by cortisol: Evidence for a common mechanism governing ligand binding specificity in steroid hormone receptors
The amino acids that confer aldosterone binding specificity to the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) remain to be determined. We had previously analyzed a panel of chimeras created between the MR and the glucocorticoid receptor and determined that amino acids 804-874 of the MR ligand binding domain are critical for aldosterone binding. In the present study a further series of chimeras was created within this region. The chimeras were analyzed by a transactivation assay and [(3)H] aldosterone binding, and the critical region was narrowed down to amino acids 820-844. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to create single and multiple amino acid substitutions in this region. These studies identified 12 of the 16 amino acids that differ in the MR and the glucocorticoid receptor in this region as being critical to conferring aldosterone responsivity. The amino acids that differ in the region 820-844 lie on the surface of the molecule and, therefore, it appears that MR ligand binding selectivity is conferred by residues that do not form part of the ligand binding pocket. Other studies have found that the corresponding regions of the androgen and glucocorticoid receptors are critical for the binding of natural and synthetic ligands, suggesting a common mechanism governing ligand binding specificity. The new chimeras also displayed, as previously reported, a dissociation between cortisol binding and transactivation and, intriguingly, only those that bound aldosterone with high affinity were activated by cortisol, suggesting a common mechanism that underlies specificity of aldosterone binding and the ability of cortisol to activate the MR.