Comparing the rules of engagement of androgen and glucocorticoid receptors

Despite the diverse physiological activities of androgens and glucocorticoids, the corresponding receptors are very close members of the nuclear-receptor super family. Their action mechanisms show striking similarities, since both receptors recognize very similar DNA-response elements and recruit the same coactivators to their target genes. The specificity of the responses lies mainly in the tissue-specific expression of the receptors and in their ligand specificity. In cells, where both receptors are expressed, the mechanisms leading to the difference in target genes are less obvious. They lie in part in subtle variations of the DNA-binding sites, in cooperativity with other transcription factors and in differential allosteric signals from the DNA and ligand to other receptor domains. We will highlight the different suggestions that might explain the DNA sequence selectivity and will compare the possible allosteric routes between the response elements and the different functions in the transactivation process. The interplay of androgen and glucocorticoid receptors is also highly relevant in clinical settings, where both receptors are therapeutically targeted. We will discuss the possibility that the glucocorticoid and androgen receptors can play partially redundant roles in castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS. 2017 Feb 06 [Epub ahead of print]

Frank Claessens, Steven Joniau, Christine Helsen

Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven, Campus GHB ON1, Herestraat 49, PO Box 901, 3000, Leuven, Belgium. ., Department of Urology, University Hospitals Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000, Leuven, Belgium., Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, KU Leuven, Campus GHB ON1, Herestraat 49, PO Box 901, 3000, Leuven, Belgium.