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Mechanisms of androgen receptor signalling via steroid receptor coactivator-1 in prostate.

Powell SM, Christiaens V, Voulgaraki D, Waxman J, Claessens F, Bevan CL
Endocrine-related cancer


The androgen receptor (AR) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily. These ligand-activated transcription factors usually contain two activation functions, a ligand-independent activation function 1(AF1) in the divergent N-terminal domain and a ligand-dependent AF2 in the more conserved C-terminal ligand-binding domain. To promote transcription from target promoters, DNA-bound nuclear receptors recruit coactivator proteins that promote transcription by modifying histones within nucleosomes, resulting in altered topology of chromatin to allow access of the basal transcriptional machinery, or stabilising the pre-initiation complex. It is well known that most coactivators interact with AF2 of many nuclear receptors via conserved, helical LxxLL motifs (where L is leucine and x is any amino acid). The AF2 of the AR is very weak, but we were able to demonstrate that its intrinsic ligand-dependent activity is potentiated by steroid receptor coactivator-1 (SRC1) and that this region interacts with coactivators via LxxLL motifs. However, a mutant SRC1 coactivator with no functional LxxLL motifs was still able to potentiate AR activity. We found that SRC1 can also be recruited to (and increase activity of) AF1 of the AR via a conserved, glutamine-rich region. Point mutations within this region abolish SRC1 interaction with AF1 and also abolish or severely impair its ability to potentiate AR activity on all promoters tested. Thus the AR interacts with SRC1 via two different regions and the AF1 interaction is functionally the more important, although the contribution of the two interactions varies in a promoter-dependent fashion. SRC1 then potentiates receptor activity via recruitment of CBP/p300, a histone acetyltranferase. This is important in the context of prostate cancer as SRC1 and other coactivators including CBP are coexpressed with AR in the luminal epithelial cells of the prostate, where over 90% of prostate tumours arise. There is a need for effective second-line prostate cancer therapy aimed at blocking the AR pathway when anti-androgen therapy has failed. Since there is growing evidence that nuclear receptor cofactors may be implicated in the progression of hormone-dependent tumours to hormone-independent states, novel targets could include the interaction of AR with coactivator proteins. We suggest that the N-terminal interaction would be a more specific and effective target in the case of prostate cancer than the LxxLL/AF2 interaction.

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