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V Vivat, D Gofflo, T Garcia, J-M Wurtz, W Bourguet, D Philibert, and H Gronemeyer


The natural ligands of the progesterone (PR) and androgen (AR) receptors, progesterone and testosterone, differ only by their 17β-substitution. To identify within the AR and PR ligand-binding domains (LBDs) the sequences responsible for the differential recognition of these ligands, chimeric LBDs assembled from five homologous AR/PR 'cassettes' linked to the GAL4-DNA binding domain were constructed, and their ligand binding and transactivation characteristics were determined. Replacing the central cassette 3 of PR by that of AR generated a progesterone- and testosterone-responsive PR LBD with the AR residues 788-RHLS-791 being specifically involved in testosterone recognition, while the introduction of the C-terminal PR cassette 5 into AR conferred progestin responsiveness onto the AR LBD. These results suggest that residues within AR 788-RHLS-791 interact with the testosterone 17β-OH, while PR cassette 5 apparently contains the amino acid(s) specifically involved in the recognition of the progesterone 17β-acetyl group. However, ligand binding and transactivation by these chimeras were significantly decreased compared with those of the parental LBDs, indicating that residues located outside of these cassettes contribute to the proper positioning of the steroids in the AR and PR ligand-binding pockets (LBPs). Indeed, certain AR/PR chimeras acquired efficient ligand binding, but were unable to transactivate, indicating that the ligand was improperly bound in the chimeric LBP and could not induce the conformational changes leading to a transcriptionally competent activation function (AF-2) within the LBD. The properties of the various LBD chimeras are discussed in view of the recently solved three-dimensional structures of the retinoid X receptor α apo- and retinoic acid receptor γ holo-LBDs.

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S Lumbroso, A Wagschal, W Bourguet, V Georget, I Mazen, N Servant, F Audran, C Sultan, and G Auzou

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) is an X-linked disease caused by mutations in the androgen receptor (AR) resulting in various degrees of defective masculinization in 46,XY individuals. In the present study, we describe a novel mutation in exon 7 of the AR gene in an Egyptian patient with partial AIS (PAIS). Sequencing analysis of the AR gene revealed a novel missense mutation, P817A, within the ligand-binding domain (LBD). This is the first report of a mutation within the short amino acid motif (codons 815-817) of the beta-strand lying between helices H8 and H9 of the AR LBD. The functional defects of the mutated protein were characterized by in vitro study and included significantly decreased ligand-binding affinity and impaired transactivation potential. Limited proteolysis assays performed with the wild-type and mutant AR receptors incubated with the synthetic agonist R1881 revealed that the P817A mutation resulted in a reduced stabilization of the AR active conformation. Structural analyses showed that this mutation is likely to perturb the beta-sheet interaction between residues 815-817 and 911-913. This structural alteration destabilizes the position of the C-terminal extension, which contains residues critical for androgen function.