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Annu Rev Physiol. 2013;75:201-24. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183656. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

The androgen receptor in health and disease.

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Institute of Health Biosciences, The University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


Androgens play pivotal roles in the regulation of male development and physiological processes, particularly in the male reproductive system. Most biological effects of androgens are mediated by the action of nuclear androgen receptor (AR). AR acts as a master regulator of downstream androgen-dependent signaling pathway networks. This ligand-dependent transcriptional factor modulates gene expression through the recruitment of various coregulator complexes, the induction of chromatin reorganization, and epigenetic histone modifications at target genomic loci. Dysregulation of androgen/AR signaling perturbs normal reproductive development and accounts for a wide range of pathological conditions such as androgen-insensitive syndrome, prostate cancer, and spinal bulbar muscular atrophy. In this review we summarize recent advances in understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms of AR action as well as newly recognized aspects of AR-mediated androgen signaling in both men and women. In addition, we offer a perspective on the use of animal genetic model systems aimed at eventually developing novel therapeutic AR ligands.

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