Germline polymorphisms and somatic mutations of the androgen receptor (AR) have been intensely investigated in prostate cancer but even with genomic approaches their impact remains controversial. To assess the functional significance of AR genetic variation, we converted the mouse gene to the human sequence by germline recombination and engineered alleles to query the role of a polymorphic glutamine (Q) tract implicated in cancer risk. In a prostate cancer model, AR Q tract length influences progression and castration response. Mutation profiling in mice provides direct evidence that somatic AR variants are selected by therapy, a finding validated in human metastases from distinct treatment groups. Mutant ARs exploit multiple mechanisms to resist hormone ablation, including alterations in ligand specificity, target gene selectivity, chaperone interaction and nuclear localization. Regardless of their frequency, these variants permute normal function to reveal novel means to target wild type AR and its key interacting partners.
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