Researchers at the Mays Cancer Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have made a significant discovery regarding potential treatment strategies for prostate cancer and related diseases. Their study centers on androgen receptors (AR), which play a crucial role in directing male sexual characteristics by regulating gene expression.
The scientists found that maintaining an optimal level of androgen receptor “multivalent interactions” is essential for proper function. Multivalent interactions involve multiple molecules binding simultaneously to regulatory chromatin sites, controlling gene expression. Disruptions in these interactions may contribute to the development of diseases.
Zhijie “Jason” Liu, Ph.D., lead author of the study, explained, “Our findings offer insights into potential therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer and other AR-related diseases by targeting AR multivalent interactions.”
The researchers observed that androgen receptors create membrane-less subunits known as “condensates” with high concentrations, carrying out specific cellular functions. These condensates form through protein-clustering interactions triggered by androgen hormone stimulation.
Disrupting these condensates impairs androgen receptor function in assembling “enhancers,” which are DNA sequences that activate transcription independently.
Liu emphasized, “Our research, using AR as an example, highlights the importance of maintaining precise levels of multivalent interactions for beneficial hormone-induced enhancer assembly events. Overall, our findings suggest that targeting AR protein multivalent interactions pharmacologically could be a promising approach for treating prostate cancer and other AR-related diseases.”