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Mol Endocrinol. 2010 Aug;24(8):1665-74. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0138. Epub 2010 Jul 7.

Research Resource: The androgen receptor modulates expression of genes with critical roles in muscle development and function.

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Transcriptional Targets, Tissue Repair, Pfizer Biotherapeutics, Collegeville, Pennsylvania 19426, USA.


Androgen signaling through the androgen receptor (AR), a ligand-dependent transcription factor within the steroid receptor superfamily, plays an important role in the development and maintenance of many tissues. In muscle, androgens act as anabolic agents that increase both muscle mass and strength; however, a key unanswered question is the mechanism through which AR-mediated gene expression leads to these effects. To gain further insight into the mechanism of AR action in muscle, we identified AR-binding sites in primary human muscle cells using ChIP-on-Chip (chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with tiling microarray detection of genomic fragments). Through this analysis, we identified 32,518 potential AR-binding sites throughout the genome that were enriched upon androgen treatment. Sequence analysis of these regions indicated that approximately 90% possess a consensus androgen response element or half-site. Among the identified AR-binding sites are genes known to be directly regulated by AR, confirming the validity of our methodology. Additionally, we identified a number of novel AR targets, including genes and micro-RNAs implicated in muscle differentiation and function, suggesting a direct role for AR-mediated transcription in muscle development. Intriguingly, binding sequences for the Mef2 family of transcription factors were enriched in the AR-bound regions, and we show that several Mef2c-dependent genes are direct targets of AR, suggesting a functional interaction between Mef2c and AR in skeletal muscle. Our results provide new insights into the mechanisms by which androgens promote muscle growth and validate AR as a potential therapeutic target for sarcopenia, muscle wasting, and other androgen-related muscle disorders.

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