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2002 | 49 | 3 | 735-745
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Steroid signal transduction activated at the cell membrane: from plants to animals.

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Steroid hormones in plants and in animals are very important for physiological and developmental regulation. In animals steroid hormones are recognized by nuclear receptors, which transcriptionally regulate specific target genes following binding of the ligand. In addition, numerous rapid effects generated by steroids appear to be mediated by a mechanism not depending on the activation of nuclear receptors. Although the existence of separate membrane receptors was postulated many years ago and hundreds of reports supporting this hypothesis have been published, no animal membrane steroid receptor has been cloned to date. Meanwhile, a plant steroid receptor from Arabidopsis thaliana has been identified and cloned. It is a transmembrane protein which specifically recognizes plant steroids (brassinosteroids) at the cell surface and has a serine/threonine protein kinase activity. It seems that plants have no intracellular steroid receptors, since there are no genes homologous to the family of animal nuclear steroid receptors in the genome of A. thaliana. Since the reason of the rapid responses to steroid hormones in animal cells still remains obscure we show in this article two possible explanations of this phenomenon. Using 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 as an example of animal steroid hormone, we review results of our and of other groups concordant with the hypothesis of membrane steroid receptors. We also review the results of experiments performed with ovarian hormones, that led their authors to the hypothesis explaining rapid steroid actions without distinct membrane steroid receptors. Finally, examples of polypeptide growth factor that similarly to steroids exhibit a dual mode of action, activating not only cell surface receptors, but also intracellular targets, are discussed.
Physical description
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