The TPR proteins FKBP52, FKBP51, Cyp40, and PP5 are found in steroid receptor (SR) complexes, but their receptor-specific preferences and roles remain unresolved. We have undertaken a systematic approach to this problem by examining the contribution of all four TPRs to the localization properties of glucocorticoid (GR) and progesterone (PR) receptors. The GR of L929 cells was found in the cytoplasm in a complex containing PP5 and FKBP51, while the GR of WCL2 cells was nuclear and contained PP5 and FKBP52. Cyp40 did not interact with the GR in either cell line. To test whether FKBP interaction determined localization, we overexpressed Flag-tagged FKBP51 in WCL2 cells and Flag-FKBP52 in L929 cells. In WCL2 cells, the GR exhibited a shift to greater cytoplasmic localization that correlated with recruitment of Flag-FKBP51. In contrast, Flag-FKBP52 was not recruited to the GR of L929 cells, and no change in localization was observed, suggesting that both cell-type-specific mechanisms and TPR abundance contribute to the SR-TPR interaction. As a further test, GR-GFP and PR-GFP constructs were expressed in COS cells. The GR-GFP construct localized to the cytoplasm, while the PR-GFP construct was predominantly nuclear. Similar to L929 cells, the GR in COS interacted with PP5 and FKBP51, while PR interacted with FKBP52. Analysis of GR-PR chimeric constructs revealed that the ligand-binding domain of each receptor determines both TPR specificity and localization. Lastly, we analyzed GR and PR localization in cells completely lacking TPR. PR in FKBP52 KO cells showed a complete shift to the cytoplasm, while GR in FKB P51 KO and PP5 KO cells showed a moderate shift to the nucleus, indicating that both TPRs contribute to GR localization. Our results demonstrate that SRs have distinct preferences for TPR proteins, a property that resides in the LBD and which can now explain long-standing differences in receptor subcellular localization.
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