Developmental changes in the expression and compartmentalization of the glucocorticoid receptor in embryonic retina

Rena Gorovits, Iris Ben-Dror, Lyle E. Fox, Hannes M. Westphal, Lily Vardimon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Inducibility by glucocorticoids of the glutamine synthetase gene in chicken embryo retina and the transcriptional activity of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) greatly increase between embryonic days 6 and 10 (E6, E10), although the level of GR does not markedly change during that time. This apparent discrepancy was investigated by examining the pattern of GR expression in undifferentiated E6 retina and in E10 retina, which consists mostly of differentiated cells. Two GR isoforms, 90 and 95 kDa, were found to be expressed at both of these ages at a similar total level but in different proportions: in E6 retina the level of the 90-kDa isoform was higher, whereas in E10 retina the 95-kDa receptor was higher. However, following treatment of the retinas with cortisol, the 95-kDa isoform became the predominant receptor at both ages. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the cellular localization of GR markedly changed in the course of development: in the undifferentiated E6 retina GR was expressed in virtually all cells, whereas in the more differentiated E10 and E12 retina, GR was detected only in Muller glia cells. The latter represent ≃20% of the cells in this tissue and are the only cells in which glucocorticoid hormone induces the glutamine synthetase gene. We suggest that the compartmentalization of GR in Muller glia is a major aspect of the mechanism that modulates receptor activity during retina development and results in the temporal increase in the inducibility of glutamine synthetase and its specific localization in Muller glia cells.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4786-4790
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - 24 May 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Muller glia cells
  • embryonic development
  • glutamine synthetase
  • neural retina
  • receptor isoforms


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