Transcriptional Profiling ofAndrogen Receptor(AR) Mutants Suggests Instructive and Permissive Roles of AR Signaling in Germ Cell Development
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The androgen receptor (AR) is a transcription factor that plays a critical role in male sexual development, spermatogenesis, and maintenance of hormonal homeostasis. Despite the extensive knowledge of the phenotypic consequences of mutations in Ar, very little is known about the transcriptional targets of AR within the testis. To identify potential targets of androgen signaling in the testis, we have analyzed the transcriptional profile of adult testes from Ar hypomorphs alone or in combination with Sertoli cell-specific Ar ablation. Using Affymetrix MOE430A mouse genome arrays we interrogated more than 22,000 transcripts. We found the expression level of 62 transcripts in the Ar mutants differed by greater than 2-fold compared with wild type. We also found that more transcripts were up-regulated than down-regulated, highlighting AR's role as a transcriptional repressor in the testis. Twelve transcripts were uniquely affected, and 16 transcripts were more severely affected in Sertoli cell-specific Ar ablation compared with hypomorphic Ar mutants. Using a comparative genomic approach, we analyzed the 6 kb around the transcriptional start sites of affected transcripts for conserved AREs (androgen response elements). We identified at least one conserved ARE in 65% of the genes misregulated in our microarray analysis where clear mouse-human orthologs were available. We used a reporter assay in cell culture to functionally verify the AREs for the kallikrein 27 gene. This suggests that the majority of the misregulated transcripts have a high probability of being direct AR targets. The transcripts affected by these Ar mutations encode a diverse array of proteins whose molecular functions support the contention that AR supports spermatogenesis in both a permissive and instructive fashion.
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