The thyroid hormone (T3) receptors (TRs) are hormone-dependent transcription factors that regulate expression of a variety of specific target genes. To help elucidate the mechanisms that underlie this transcriptional regulation and other potential TR activities, we used the yeast interaction trap to isolate clones encoding proteins that specifically interact with the ligand binding domain of the rat TR beta. Several such proteins, called Trips (TR-interacting proteins), were isolated from independent selections carried out either in the presence or absence of T3. Surprisingly, all of the Trips were dependent on hormone for interaction with the TR, with some interacting only when T3 is present and others only when it is absent. Nearly all of the Trips also show similar ligand-dependent interaction with the retinoid X receptor (RXR), but none interact with the glucocorticoid receptor under any conditions. The sequences of three of the Trips predict specific functional roles: one is an apparent human homolog of a yeast transcriptional coactivator, one is a new member of a class of nonhistone chromosomal proteins, and one contains a conserved domain associated with ubiquitination of specific target proteins. Consistent with the pleiotropic effects of TR and RXR, several other Trips show significant amino acid sequence similarity with proteins involved in various regulatory pathways. The inherent transcriptional activity of the Trips was tested in yeast, and a chimeric protein consisting of a fusion of Trip4 to the bacterial LexA repressor protein is a relatively strong transcriptional activator. Similar LexA fusions to Trip9 and Trip10 had no transcriptional activity on their own but, when coexpressed with both TR and RXR, conferred T3-dependent activation to a reporter gene controlled by LexA binding sites. We suggest that this indirect T3 response provides a novel mechanism for hormonal activation of gene expression, and that studies of the Trips will provide important insights into the specific mechanisms of action of TRs and other receptors.
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