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Hum Reprod Update. 2003 Jan-Feb;9(1):1-7.

Androgen receptor gene and male infertility.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore.


Androgens are critical steroid hormones that determine the expression of the male phenotype. Their actions are mediated by a single androgen receptor (AR) which, upon ligand binding, translocates to the nucleus to regulate the expression of androgen-responsive genes. Mutations that disrupt AR function totally result in the complete feminization of 46 XY individuals and the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. Studies have revealed that AR mutations that do not lead to complete abrogation of its activity can cause a wide spectrum of milder androgen insensitivity syndromes, from ambiguous genitalia in newborn infants to 'idiopathic' male infertility. Recent studies indicate that missense amino-acid substitutions in the ligand-binding domain of the AR result in infertility through a novel mechanism that involves defective protein-protein interactions between receptor domains and coactivator proteins. Independent of missense mutations, studies involving Singaporean, Australian, North American and Japanese subjects indicate that increases in length of a trinucleotide repeat (CAG) tract, encoding a polyglutamine stretch in the transactivation domain of the AR, are associated with increased risk of defective spermatogenesis and undermasculinization. This association was however not observed in European populations, suggesting that the genetic background may play a significant role in the expression of the AR defects.

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