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Steroid receptors (SRs) encompass a family of transcription factors that regulate the expression of thousands of genes upon binding to steroid hormones and include the glucocorticoid, androgen, progesterone, estrogen and mineralocorticoid receptors. SRs control key physiological and pathological processes, thus becoming relevant drug targets. As with many other nuclear proteins, hormone-activated SRs concentrate in multiple discrete foci within the cell nucleus. Even though these foci were first observed ∼25 years ago, their exact structure and function remained elusive. In the last years, new imaging methodologies and theoretical frameworks improved our understanding of the intranuclear organization. These studies led to a new paradigm stating that many membraneless nuclear compartments, including transcription-related foci, form through a liquid-liquid phase separation process. These exciting ideas impacted the SR field by raising the hypothesis of SR foci as liquid condensates involved in transcriptional regulation. In this work, we review the current knowledge about SR foci formation under the light of the condensate model, analyzing how these structures may impact SR function. These new ideas, combined with state-of-the-art techniques, may shed light on the biophysical mechanisms governing the formation of SR foci and the biological function of these structures in normal physiology and disease. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society.


Martin Stortz, Diego M Presman, Adali Pecci, Valeria Levi. Phasing the intranuclear organization of steroid hormone receptors. The Biochemical journal. 2021 Jan 29;478(2):443-461

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PMID: 33512446

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