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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 23;279(17):17319-28. Epub 2004 Feb 13.

Mechanistic relationship between androgen receptor polyglutamine tract truncation and androgen-dependent transcriptional hyperactivity in prostate cancer cells.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


Androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathways mediate critical events in normal and neoplastic prostate growth. Shortening of the polymorphic N-terminal polyglutamine (poly(Q)) tract of the AR gene leads to transcriptional hyperactivity and has been correlated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. The underlying mechanisms for these effects are poorly understood. We show here that androgen-dependent cellular proliferation and transcription in prostate cancer cells is inversely correlated to the length of the AR poly(Q) region. We further show that AR proteins containing a shortened poly(Q) region functionally respond to lower concentrations of androgens than wild type AR. Whereas DNA binding activity is relatively unaffected by AR poly(Q) variation, we found that ligand binding affinity and the ligand-induced NH(2)- to COOH-terminal intramolecular interaction is enhanced when the poly(Q) region is shortened. Importantly, we show that AR proteins containing a shortened poly(Q) region associate in vivo with higher levels of specific p160 coactivators and components of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex as compared with the wild type AR. Collectively, our findings suggest that the AR transcriptional hyperactivity associated with shortened poly(Q) length stems from altered ligand-induced conformational changes that enhance coactivator recruitment.

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