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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1996 Dec;45(6):733-9.

Clinical and biochemical investigations and molecular analysis of subjects with mutations in the androgen receptor gene.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Developmental Biology, Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf.



Androgen insensitivity syndromes (AIS) in subjects with 46, XY karyotype and normal or even elevated androgen blood levels are characterized by various aberrations in male differentiation and virilization. AIS is often accompanied by a broad spectrum of abnormal binding characteristics of the androgen receptor (AR). In order to investigate the correlation between the degree of virilization defect and the type of androgen binding abnormalities and/or the nature of the mutation in the AR gene, we determined androgen binding characteristics of the AR protein and the sequence of the AR gene in clinically and biochemically well characterized patients with various degrees of androgen resistance.


The activity of 5 alpha-reductase and the binding of androgen to its receptor (KD-values, Bmax, thermolability) were determined in genital skin fibroblasts from 20 patients with various degrees of defects in virilization (2 CAIS, complete AIS; 18 PAIS, partial AIS patients). The AR gene of these 20 subjects was characterized by PCR-SSCP analysis. In case of aberrant electrophoretic mobility the corresponding exon was sequenced.


The 2 patients with CAIS and 7 with PAIS showed a mutation in the AR gene. In two, the mutation was in the DNA binding domain, and in all others in the ligand binding domain. In 11 patients with severe virilization defects no abnormal behaviour was detected in the PCR-SSCP. Transcriptional activation studies of two mutant ARs revealed that an approximately tenfold higher androgen concentration (methyltrienolone) is necessary to achieve maximal response as compared to the wild type AR.


There is no obvious relation between the degree of androgen resistance and the binding parameters of the AR and/or the nature of mutation in the AR gene. Androgen insensitivity syndrome can occur despite normal androgen binding and presumably non-mutated AR genes. Even if there is abnormal binding of androgen and/or a mutation in the AR gene there is no clear-cut relationship between these parameters and the degree of virilization defects. Thus, in a proportion of patients, neither the determination of binding parameters of the AR nor the detection of mutations in the AR gene are sufficient to understand the mechanisms underlying the androgen insensitivity syndrome.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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