Responding to different dynamic levels of stress is critical for mammalian survival. Disruption of mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling is proposed to underlie hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation observed in stress-related psychiatric disorders. In this study, we show that FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP5) plays a critical role in fine-tuning MR:GR balance in the hippocampus.

Biotinylated-oligonucleotide immunoprecipitation in primary hippocampal neurons reveals that MR binding, rather than GR binding, to the Fkbp5 gene regulates FKBP5 expression during baseline activity of glucocorticoids. Notably, FKBP5 and MR exhibit similar hippocampal expression patterns in mice and humans, which are distinct from that of the GR. Pharmacological inhibition and region- and cell type-specific receptor deletion in mice further demonstrate that lack of MR decreases hippocampal Fkbp5 levels and dampens the stress-induced increase in glucocorticoid levels.

Overall, our findings demonstrate that MR-dependent changes in baseline Fkbp5 expression modify GR sensitivity to glucocorticoids, providing insight into mechanisms of stress homeostasis.