Millisecond to microsecond time scale dynamics of the retinoid X and retinoic acid receptor DNA-binding domains and dimeric complex formation

P J van Tilborg, Frans A. A. Mulder, M M de Backer, M Nair, E C van Heerde, G Folkers, P T van der Saag, Yasmin Karimi-Nejad, R Boelens, R Kaptein

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The all-trans retinoic acid and 9-cis retinoic acid receptors (RAR and RXR, respectively) belong to a family of ligand inducible transcription factors, which exert their effect via binding to hormone response elements. Both are members of the class II sub-family of nuclear receptors, which bind DNA as dimers, on tandem repeats of a hexamer motif separated by a variable spacer. The variability in spacer length and the head-to-tail organization of the hormone response elements result in different protein-protein interactions in each of the complexes. We show that the zinc-coordinating loop regions of RXR and RAR DNA-binding domains exhibit dynamics on the millisecond to microsecond time scale. The highly dynamic second zinc finger of RXR constitutes the primary protein-protein interface in many nuclear receptor assemblies on DNA. Dynamics is also observed in the first and second zinc fingers of RAR, which are implicated in dimeric interactions with RXR on response elements with spacers of 5 base pairs and 1 base pair, respectively. The striking correspondence between the regions that exhibit conformational exchange and the dimer interfaces of the proteins complexed with DNA suggests a functional role for the dynamics. The observed flexibility may allow the proteins to adapt to various partners and with different orientations upon assembly on DNA. Furthermore, the more extensive dynamics observed for RXR may reflect the greater ability of this protein to modulate its interaction surface since it participates in a wide variety of receptor complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1951-1956
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • DNA
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dimerization
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoid X Receptors
  • Thermodynamics
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors


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