Proteins of Multiple Classes May Participate in Nongenomic Steroid Actions

Cheryl S. Watson, Bahiru Gametchu

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Responses to steroids initiated from non-nuclear receptors impinge on a wide variety of cellular responses and utilize nearly all known signal transduction webs. While the mechanisms by which steroid receptors localize in the membrane are still unclear, it is apparent that this alternative localization allows steroid receptors to participate in a wide range of complex functions influencing cell proliferation, death, and differentiation. The central debate still remains the identity of the protein class or classes that mediate membrane-initiated (nongenomic) responses. The data thus far have supported several possibilities, including: nuclear steroid receptor-like forms in non-nuclear locations; other known (nonsteroid) membrane receptors or channels with additional steroid-binding sites; enzymes; transporters; receptors for serum steroid-binding proteins; unique and previously undescribed proteins; or chimeras of typical steroid receptor domains with other unique or known protein domains. Categorizing membrane steroid receptor proteins based exclusively on the actions of antagonists and agonists, without considering cell context and protein partnering issues, may mislead us into predicting more receptor subtypes than really exist. However, the plethora of signaling and functional outcomes may indicate the participation of more than one kind of steroid-binding protein. Resolving such unanswered questions will require future investigative focus on this alternative arm of steroid action, which is likely to yield as many therapeutic opportunities as have nuclear steroid mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1272-1281
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Protein kinases
  • Protein partners
  • Receptors
  • Signaling
  • Steroid-binding proteins
  • Subcellular localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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