Previous studies on glucocorticoid receptors have suggested the existence of interactions between the receptor and microtubule or actin networks. It was hypothesized that such interactions may contribute to the guidance of steroid hormone receptors towards the nucleus. We used a permanent L cell line expressing the delta 638-642 progesterone receptor. This mutant has all the characteristics of the wild type receptor except that the deletion of five amino acids inactivates the constitutive karyophilic signal. Consequently, the receptor is cytoplasmic in the absence of hormone but is shifted into the nucleus when administration of hormone activates the second karyophilic signal. Optical microscopy and confocal laser microscopy were used in intact cells or in cells depleted of soluble elements by permeabilization with detergents. By immunofluorescence, the receptor was found to be mainly concentrated in the perinuclear area. A small fraction of progesterone receptor (PR) persisted in this region after Triton X100 treatment. These observations suggested that the receptor could interact with some insoluble constituent(s) of the cytoplasm. However, careful colocalization studies showed that this heterogenous distribution was not due to interactions with microtubule, microfilament, or intermediate filament networks. Functional involvement of these networks in the translocation of the receptor into the nucleus was studied after cell treatment with cytoskeletal drugs such as nocodazole, demecolcine and cytochalasin. None of these compounds prevented or even delayed the hormone-dependent transfer of delta 638-642 PR into the nucleus. Similar conclusions were reached with the wild type receptor expressed by transfection in Cos-7 cells. PR was shifted from the nucleus into the cytoplasm by administration of energy-depleting drugs. After disruption of the various cytoskeletal networks normal nuclear reaccumulation of the receptor was observed when these drugs were removed. The results thus suggest that the progesterone receptor is not colocalized with the main cytoskeletal components. Disruption of the cytoskeletal networks does not prevent its nuclear translocation. Thus, karyophilic signals and interactions with the nuclear pore seem to be the primary determinants of the cellular traffic of the progesterone receptor.

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