An androgen receptor (AR) interacting protein was isolated from a HeLa cell cDNA library by two-hybrid screening in yeast using the AR DNA+ligand binding domains as bait. The protein has sequence identity with human protein inhibitor of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription (PIAS1) and human Gu RNA helicase II binding protein (GBP). Binding of PIAS1 to human AR DNA+ligand binding domains was androgen dependent in the yeast liquid beta-galactosidase assay. Activation of binding by dihydrotestosterone was greater than testosterone > estradiol > progesterone. PIAS1 binding to full-length human AR in a reversed yeast two hybrid system was also androgen dependent. [35S] PIAS1 bound a glutathione S-transferase-AR-DNA binding domain (amino acids 544-634) fusion protein in affinity matrix assays. In transient cotransfection assays using CV1 cells with full-length human AR and a mouse mammary tumor virus luciferase reporter vector, there was an androgen-dependent 3- to 5-fold greater increase in luciferase activity with PIAS1 over that obtained with an equal amount of control antisense cDNA or mutant PIAS1. Constitutive transcriptional activity of the AR N-terminal+DNA binding domain was increased 6-fold by PIAS1. PIAS1 also enhanced glucocorticoid receptor transactivation in response to dexamethasone but inhibited progesterone-induced progesterone receptor transactivation in the same assay system. mRNA for PIAS1 was highly expressed in testis of human, monkey, rat, and mouse. In rat testis the onset of PIAS1 mRNA expression coincided with the initiation of spermatogenesis between 25-30 days of age. Immunostaining of human and mouse testis with PIAS1-specific antiserum demonstrated coexpression of PIAS1 with AR in Sertoli cells and Leydig cells. In addition, PIAS1 was expressed in spermatogenic cells. The results suggest that PIAS1 functions in testis as a nuclear receptor transcriptional coregulator and may have a role in AR initiation and maintenance of spermatogenesis.