Interactive Course

An Interactive Course in Nuclear Receptor Signaling: Concepts and Models

Neil J. McKenna1,*andBert W. O'Malley*

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and 1Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) Bioinformatics Resource, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


*Corresponding author. E-mail: nmckenna{at} (N.J.M.); berto{at} (B.W.O.)


Nuclear receptors are members of a superfamily of ligand-inducible transcription factors involved in the regulation of specific target genes involved in biological processes as diverse as metabolism, development, and reproduction. They mediate the transcriptional response to hormones, such as the sex steroids (progestins, estrogens, and androgens), adrenal steroids (glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids), vitamin D3, thyroid, and retinoid (9-cis and all-trans) hormones, in addition to various metabolic ligands.

A substantial body of work dating from the 1960s to the present day has been devoted to the characterization, cloning, functional analysis, and biological exploration of these factors. More recently, the complexity of nuclear receptor signaling pathways has been brought into focus by the discovery of coregulators, a structurally and functionally diverse group of factors that mediate the positive and negative effects of nuclear receptors on gene expression.

This interactive course was created by members of the Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA). NURSA is an NIH funded research consortium formed with the aim of providing a repository of nuclear receptor-related data for use of the scientific community. More information on NURSA can be found at

The associated online course is presented in an interactive Flash animation format and includes a printable PDF version of course notes that can be used either by a student or by an educator preparing to teach a course or class on nuclear receptors. The PDF also includes instructions for interacting with the animated course. A self-test quiz appears at the end of the course. The link below will take you to the course information as prepared on October 2003. The course also resides at the NURSA Web site and as the field advances, additional materials and references will be added to the course available through NURSA.

[Access Interactive Course at STKE] [Access Interactive Course at NURSA] [Course Notes PDF]

Educational Details

Learning Resource Type: Animation, online tool, PDF

Context: Undergraduate upper division, graduate, professional (degree program)

Intended Users: Teacher, learner

Intended Educational Use: Teach, learn

Discipline: Biochemistry, cell biology, endocrinology. environmental sciences, metabolism, molecular biology, reproductive biology, structural biology

Keywords: Nuclear receptors, coactivators, corepressors, transcriptional regulation, SERMs, steroid hormones.

Technical Details

Format: HTML, CSS, SWF, XML, TXT, JS, and PDF

Size: 12.8 MB

Requirements: The animated course will play in any browser with the Macromedia Flash Player plug in (

Limits for Use

Cost: Free

Rights: This material may be downloaded for noncommercial, course-teaching purposes only, provided credit to STKE is included by listing the citation for the Teaching Resource.


Citation: N. J. McKenna, B. W. O'Malley, An interactive course in nuclear receptor signaling: Concepts and models. Sci. STKE2005, tr22 (2005).

© 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science