Role of the Mediator complex in nuclear hormone receptor signaling

M. Belakavadi, J. D. Fondell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Mediator is an evolutionarily conserved multisubunit protein complex that plays a key role in regulating transcription by RNA polymerase II. The complex functions by serving as a molecular bridge between DNA-bound transcriptional activators and the basal transcription apparatus. In humans, Mediator was first characterized as a thyroid hormone receptor (TR)-associated protein (TRAP) complex that facilitates ligand-dependent transcriptional activation by TR. More recently, Mediator has been established as an essential coactivator for a broad range of nuclear hormone receptors (NRs) as well as several other types of gene-specific transcriptional activators. A single subunit of the complex, MED1/TRAP220, is required for direct ligand-dependent interactions with NRs. Mediator coactivates NR-regulated gene expression by facilitating the recruitment and activation of the RNA polymerase II-associated basal transcription apparatus. Importantly, Mediator acts in concert with other NR coactivators involved in chromatin remodeling to initiate transcription of NR target genes in a multistep manner. In this review, we summarize the functional role of Mediator in NR signaling pathways with an emphasis on the underlying molecular mechanisms by which the complex interacts with NRs and subsequently facilitates their action. We also focus on recent advances in our understanding of TRAP/Mediator's pathophysiological role in mammalian disease and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalReviews of Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)


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