Butts C, Shukair S, Duncan K, Harris C, Belyavskaya E and Sternberg E (2007) Evaluation of steroid hormone receptor protein expression in intact cells using flow cytometry.
Nucl Recept Signal5, e007.
Several methods are currently employed to evaluate expression of steroid hormone receptors in tissues and cells, including real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR) and western blot assays. These methods require homogenization of cells, thereby preventing evaluation of individual cells or specific cell types in a given tissue sample. In addition, methods such as real-time RT-PCR assess mRNA levels, which may be subject to posttranslational modifications that prevent subsequent production of functional proteins. Flow cytometry is a fluorescence-based technique commonly used to evaluate expression of cell surface and intracellular proteins. This method is especially useful as it allows for single-cell analysis and can be utilized to determine the amount of receptor expressed by individual cells. Flow cytometry is commonly used to analyze immune cell activity and determine functionality based on changes in expression of cell surface molecules, as well as intracellular proteins (such as cytokines). Here, we describe a method to identify protein expression of steroid hormone receptors by rat leukocytes from different organs (spleen, liver and thymus) using flow cytometry. We examined expression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR), androgen receptor (AR) and progesterone receptor (PR) by cells at these sites and were able to demonstrate expression of receptors, as well as the intensity of expression of each receptor. This method is useful for rapid, high throughput measurement of steroid hormone receptors at the protein level in single, intact cells and would be valuable to determine which cells are more likely to respond to steroid hormone treatment.