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Androgen receptor

The androgen receptor is an intracellular steroid receptor that specifically binds testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.


Like all steroid receptors, the androgen receptor has several functional domains. Androgen receptors have a DNA binding domain, a hinge section, and the hormone binding domain. There is only one active form of the androgen receptor. Smaller forms represent proteolytic fragments that are not considered physiologically relevant. The androgen receptor is most closely related to the progesterone receptor, and progestins in higher dosages can block the androgen receptor.


The gene for the androgen receptor is located on the X chromosome at Xq11-12.


In some cell types testosterone interacts directly with androgen receptors while in others testosterone is converted by 5-alpha-reductase to dihydrotestosterone, an even more potent agonist for androgen receptor activation. Examples are derivatives of the Wolffian duct for the former, and derivatives of the urogenital sinus, the urogenital tubercle, and hair follicles for the latter.

The first known mechanism of action for androgen receptors was direct regulation of gene transcription. After androgen binds to an androgen receptor, restructuring with dimerization follows and the activated receptor complex enters the nucleus and binds to DNA. Androgen receptors interact with other proteins in the nucleus so as to cause alterations in gene transcription. Often the change in transcription is an activation resulting in formation of more messenger RNA that interacts with ribosomes to produce specific proteins. Thus, changes in levels of specific proteins in cells is one way that androgen receptors control cell behavior.

More recently, androgen recptors have been shown to have a second mode of action. As has been also found for other steroid hormone receptors such as estrogen receptors, androgen receptors can have actions that are independent of their interactions with DNATemplate:Ref. Androgen receptors interact with certain signal transduction proteins in the cytoplasm. Androgen binding to cytoplasmic androgen receptors can cause rapid changes in cell function independent of changes in gene transcription, such as changes in ion transport. Regulation of signal transtuction pathways by cytoplasmic androgen receptors can indirectly lead to changes in gene transcription, for example, by leading to phosphorylation of other transcription factors.

AR deficiencies

The androgen insensitivity syndrome is caused by an abnormality in the androgen receptor. The androgen receptor seems to affect neuron physiology and is defective in Kennedy disease.


  1. Testosterone activates mitogen-activated protein kinase and the cAMP response element binding protein transcription factor in Sertoli cells by Charity Fix, Cynthia Jordan, Patricia Cano and William H. Walker in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2004) volume 101 pages 10919-10924.
  2. Speroff L, Glass RH, Kase NG: Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility. Sixth Ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore,MD, 1999.

See also

External links

  • Androgen receptor gene database