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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Diabetes and Endocrinology - Molecular Biology - Oncology - Urology

The Impact of Point Mutations in the Human Androgen Receptor: Classification of Mutations on the Basis of Transcriptional Activity
Published: Monday, March 05, 2012
Author: Colin W. Hay et al.

by Colin W. Hay, Iain J. McEwan

Androgen receptor mediated signaling drives prostate cancer cell growth and survival. Mutations within the receptor occur infrequently in prostate cancer prior to hormonal therapy but become prevalent in incurable androgen independent and metastatic tumors. Despite the determining role played by the androgen receptor in all stages of prostate cancer progression, there is a conspicuous dearth of comparable data on the consequences of mutations. In order to remedy this omission, we have combined an expansive study of forty five mutations which are predominantly associated with high Gleason scores and metastatic tumors, and span the entire length of the receptor, with a literature review of the mutations under investigation. We report the discovery of a novel prevalent class of androgen receptor mutation that possesses loss of function at low levels of androgen yet transforms to a gain of function at physiological levels. Importantly, mutations introducing constitutive gain of function are uncommon, with the majority of mutations leading to either loss of function or no significant change from wild-type activity. Therefore, the widely accepted supposition that androgen receptor mutations in prostate cancer result in gain of function is appealing, but mistaken. In addition, the transcriptional outcome of some mutations is dependent upon the androgen receptor responsive element. We discuss the consequences of these findings and the role of androgen receptor mutations for prostate cancer progression and current treatment options.