We have recently reported that, in contrast to the glucocorticoid receptor, the thyroid hormone receptor does not bind to hsp90 when the receptor is translated in rabbit reticulocyte lysate [Dalman, F. C., Koenig, R. J., Perdew, G. H., Massa, E., & Pratt, W. B. (1990) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 3615–3618]. All of the steroid receptors that are known to bind hsp90 are recovered in the cytosolic fraction when hormone-free cells are ruptured in hypotonic buffer. In contrast, unliganded thyroid hormone receptors and retinoic acid receptors are tightly associated with nuclear components. In this paper, we translated the human estrogen receptor and the human retinoic acid receptor in reticulocyte lysate and then immunoadsorbed the [35S]-methionine-labeled translation products with the 8D3 monoclonal antibody against hsp90. The estrogen receptor is bound to hsp90, as indicated by coimmunoadsorption, but the retinoic acid receptor is not. Translation and immunoadsorption of chimeric proteins containing the DNA binding domain of one receptor and the N-terminal and COOH-terminal segments of the other show that the DNA binding finger region of the estrogen receptor is neither necessary nor sufficient for hsp90 binding. These observations suggest that there are two classes within the steroid receptor family. In one class (e.g., glucocorticoid, mineralo-corticoid, sex hormone, and dioxin receptors), the receptors bind to hsp90 and remain in some kind of inactive “docking” mode until hormone-triggered release of hsp90 occurs. In the retinoic acid/thyroid hormone class, the unligated receptors do not bind to hsp90, and the receptors appear to proceed directly to their high-affinity nuclear acceptor sites without entering the “docking” state.
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