Genistein down-regulates androgen receptor by modulating HDAC6-Hsp90 chaperone function

Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Oct;7(10):3195-202. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0617.


Androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-activated transcription factor belonging to the steroid hormone receptor family and is very important for the development and progression of prostate cancer. The soy isoflavone genistein has been shown previously to down-regulate AR in androgen-dependent prostate cancer cell lines such as LNCaP. However, the mechanism(s) by which AR is down-regulated by genistein is still not known fully. We show a new mechanism by which genistein inhibits AR protein levels. We show that genistein-treated LNCaP cells exhibit increased ubiquitination of AR, suggesting that AR protein is down-regulated via a proteasome-mediated pathway. AR is normally stabilized by the chaperone activity of the heat shock protein Hsp90. The increased ubiquitination of AR after genistein treatment is attributed to decreased Hsp90 chaperone activity as assessed by its increased functionally inactive acetylated form. Consistent with this result, we find that HDAC6, which is a Hsp90 deacetylase, is inhibited by the antiestrogenic activity of genistein. Hence, in this study, we elucidate a novel mechanism of AR down-regulation by genistein through inhibition of HDAC6-Hsp90 cochaperone function required to stabilize AR protein. Our results suggest that genistein could be used as a potential chemopreventive agent for prostate cancers along with known inhibitors of HDAC6 and Hsp90.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Genistein / pharmacology*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase 6
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Thermodynamics


  • AR protein, human
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Estradiol
  • Genistein
  • HDAC6 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase 6
  • Histone Deacetylases