A surface on the androgen receptor that allosterically regulates coactivator binding

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 9;104(41):16074-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0708036104. Epub 2007 Oct 2.


Current approaches to inhibit nuclear receptor (NR) activity target the hormone binding pocket but face limitations. We have proposed that inhibitors, which bind to nuclear receptor surfaces that mediate assembly of the receptor's binding partners, might overcome some of these limitations. The androgen receptor (AR) plays a central role in prostate cancer, but conventional inhibitors lose effectiveness as cancer treatments because anti-androgen resistance usually develops. We conducted functional and x-ray screens to identify compounds that bind the AR surface and block binding of coactivators for AR activation function 2 (AF-2). Four compounds that block coactivator binding in solution with IC(50) approximately 50 microM and inhibit AF-2 activity in cells were detected: three nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and the thyroid hormone 3,3',5-triiodothyroacetic acid. Although visualization of compounds at the AR surface reveals weak binding at AF-2, the most potent inhibitors bind preferentially to a previously unknown regulatory surface cleft termed binding function (BF)-3, which is a known target for mutations in prostate cancer and androgen insensitivity syndrome. X-ray structural analysis reveals that 3,3',5-triiodothyroacetic acid binding to BF-3 remodels the adjacent interaction site AF-2 to weaken coactivator binding. Mutation of residues that form BF-3 inhibits AR function and AR AF-2 activity. We propose that BF-3 is a previously unrecognized allosteric regulatory site needed for AR activity in vivo and a possible pharmaceutical target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Site / genetics
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Animals
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 2 / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Androgen / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Nuclear Receptor Coactivator 2
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Recombinant Proteins

Associated data

  • PDB/2PIO
  • PDB/2PIP
  • PDB/2PIQ
  • PDB/2PIR
  • PDB/2PIT
  • PDB/2PIU
  • PDB/2PIV
  • PDB/2PIW
  • PDB/2PIX
  • PDB/2PKL
  • PDB/2QPI