Uncovering a multitude of human glucocorticoid receptor variants: An expansive survey of a single gene

Stacey M. Leventhal, Debora Lim, Tajia L. Green, Anna E. Cantrell, Kiho Cho, David G Greenhalgh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Glucocorticoids are commonly used in the clinical setting for their potent anti-inflammatory effects; however, significant variations in response to treatment have been demonstrated. Although the underlying mechanisms have yet to be fully understood, this variable response may be a result of alterations in human glucocorticoid receptor (hGR) expression and function. In addition to hGRα, the biologically active isoform, a screening of current databases and publications revealed five alternative splice isoforms and hundreds of variants that have been reported to date. Many of these changes in the hGR-coding gene, NR3C1, have been linked to pathophysiology. However, many studies focus on evaluating hGR expression in vitro or detecting previously reported variants. Results: In this study, blood from healthy volunteers, burn and asthma patients, as well as from peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from leukoreduced donor whole blood, were screened for NR3C1 isoforms. We identified more than 1500 variants, including an additional 21 unique splice isoforms which contain 15 new cryptic exons. A dynamic database, named the Universal hGR (UhGR), was created to annotate and visualize the variants. Conclusion: This identification of naturally occurring and stress-induced hGR isoforms, as well as the establishment of an hGR-specific database, may reveal new patterns or suggest areas of interest that will lead to the improved understanding of the human stress response system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalBMC Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 8 2019


  • Alternative splicing
  • Deletions
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Insertions
  • Locus specific database
  • Polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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