Role of mitochondrial glucocorticoid receptor in glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis

Ronit Vogt Sionov, Orly Cohen, Shlomit Kfir, Yael Zilberman, Eitan Yefenof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms by which glucocorticoid receptor (GR) mediates glucocorticoid (GC)-induced apoptosis are unknown. We studied the role of mitochondrial GR in this process. Dexamethasone induces GR translocation to the mitochondria in GC-sensitive, but not in GC-resistant, T cell lines. In contrast, nuclear GR translocation occurs in all cell types. Thymic epithelial cells, which cause apoptosis of the PD1.6 T cell line in a GR-dependent manner, induce GR translocation to the mitochondria, but not to the nucleus, suggesting a role for mitochondrial GR in eliciting apoptosis. This hypothesis is corroborated by the finding that a GR variant exclusively expressed in the mitochondria elicits apoptosis of several cancer cell lines. A putative mitochondrial localization signal was defined to amino acids 558-580 of human GR, which lies within the NH2-terminal part of the ligand-binding domain. Altogether, our data show that mitochondrial and nuclear translocations of GR are differentially regulated, and that mitochondrial GR translocation correlates with susceptibility to GC-induced apoptosis. JEM

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


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