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Article
Nature 352, 497 - 505 (08 August 1991); doi:10.1038/352497a0

Crystallographic analysis of the interaction of the glucocorticoid receptor with DNA

B. F. Luisi*, W. X. Xu*, Z. Otwinowski*, L. P. Freedman, K. R. Yamamoto & P. B. Sigler*

*Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0448, USA
Present addresses: MRC Virology Unit, Institute of Virology, Church Street, Glasgow G115JT, UK (B.F.L.); Cell Biology and Genetics Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, 1275 York Avenue, New York 10021, USA (L.P.F.).

Two crystal structures of the glucocorticoid receptor DNA-binding domain complexed with DNA are reported. The domain has a globular fold which contains two Zn-nucleated substructures of distinct conformation and function. When it binds DNA, the domain dimerizes, placing the subunits in adjacent major grooves. In one complex, the DNA has the symmetrical consensus target sequence; in the second, the central spacing between the target's half-sites is larger by one base pair. This results in one subunit interacting specifically with the consensus target half-site and the other nonspecifically with a noncognate element. The DNA-induced dimer fixes the separation of the subunits' recognition surfaces so that the spacing between the half-sites becomes a critical feature of the target sequence's identity.

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