Journal of Undergraduate Research


polymorphisms, glucocorticoid receptor gene, stress


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Polymorphisms in the GR gene are an interesting and important area of research as these polymorphisms may be associated with an attenuated ability to cope with stress. This project bridged an unexplored gap between cellular and environmental stress and the expression of the GR gene—specifically the Bcl1 polymorphism of the GR gene. Cellular stress is any damage caused to the cell that alters its ability to function properly (Milisav, 2011). The Bcl1 polymorphism has what are known as C and G alleles that are genotyped as either homozygous GG, homozygous CC, or heterozygous CG (Srivastava et al., 2011). The homozygous GG polymorphism may be associated with hypersensitivity to stress hormones in the protein that is expressed through variations in the GR gene, the glucocorticoid receptor. The glucocorticoid receptor is responsible for the processing of glucocorticoids within the cell, primarily, cortisol. A hypersensitivity to glucocorticoids results in a delayed function of the glucocorticoid receptor (Chrousos & Gold, 2013), resulting in a buildup of cortisol within the cell leading to cellular damage. For our study we used telomere length as an indicator of cellular stress. Studies suggest that telomere length is associated with cellular stress, specifically that shorter telomeres indicate a greater degree of stress in the cell (Epel, 2004). Telomeres are proteins positioned at the ends of each chromatid and protect the cell’s DNA.