The contribution of different androgen receptor domains to receptor dimerization and signaling

Mol Endocrinol. 2008 Nov;22(11):2373-82. doi: 10.1210/me.2008-0017. Epub 2008 Jul 10.


The androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor of the nuclear receptor superfamily that plays a critical role in male physiology and pathology. Activated by binding of the native androgens testosterone and 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone, the AR regulates transcription of genes involved in the development and maintenance of male phenotype and male reproductive function as well as other tissues such as bone and muscle. Deregulation of AR signaling can cause a diverse range of clinical conditions, including the X-linked androgen insensitivity syndrome, a form of motor neuron disease known as Kennedy's disease, and male infertility. In addition, there is now compelling evidence that the AR is involved in all stages of prostate tumorigenesis including initiation, progression, and treatment resistance. To better understand the role of AR signaling in the pathogenesis of these conditions, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the key determinants of AR structure and function. Binding of androgens to the AR induces receptor dimerization, facilitating DNA binding and the recruitment of cofactors and transcriptional machinery to regulate expression of target genes. Various models of dimerization have been described for the AR, the most well characterized interaction being DNA-binding domain- mediated dimerization, which is essential for the AR to bind DNA and regulate transcription. Additional AR interactions with potential to contribute to receptor dimerization include the intermolecular interaction between the AR amino terminal domain and ligand-binding domain known as the N-terminal/C-terminal interaction, and ligand-binding domain dimerization. In this review, we discuss each form of dimerization utilized by the AR to achieve transcriptional competence and highlight that dimerization through multiple domains is necessary for optimal AR signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Receptors, Androgen / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Androgen