Structure and Function of the Nuclear Receptor Superfamily and Current Targeted Therapies of Prostate Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2019 Nov 23;11(12):1852. doi: 10.3390/cancers11121852.


The nuclear receptor superfamily comprises a large group of proteins with functions essential for cell signaling, survival, and proliferation. There are multiple distinctions between nuclear superfamily classes defined by hallmark differences in function, ligand binding, tissue specificity, and DNA binding. In this review, we utilize the initial classification system, which defines subfamilies based on structure and functional difference. The defining feature of the nuclear receptor superfamily is that these proteins function as transcription factors. The loss of transcriptional regulation or gain of functioning of these receptors is a hallmark in numerous diseases. For example, in prostate cancer, the androgen receptor is a primary target for current prostate cancer therapies. Targeted cancer therapies for nuclear hormone receptors have been more feasible to develop than others due to the ligand availability and cell permeability of hormones. To better target these receptors, it is critical to understand their structural and functional regulation. Given that late-stage cancers often develop hormone insensitivity, we will explore the strengths and pitfalls of targeting other transcription factors outside of the nuclear receptor superfamily such as the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT).

Keywords: STAT3; androgen receptor; nuclear receptors; prostate cancer; transcription factors; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review