Studies of up-regulation of androgen receptors in genital skin fibroblasts

Yehia Z. Gad, Gary D. Berkovitz, Claude J. Migeon, Terry R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Prolonged exposure of genital skin fibroblasts (GSF) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increases androgen receptor binding of steroid, a process termed 'up-regulation'. Because the extent of up-regulation appears to be quite variable, we have investigated the optimal conditions and the molecular mechanisms that control this phenomenon in seven strains of normal neonatal GSF. When GSF were incubated for 1-48 h with 3 nM methyltrienolone (R1881), maximal up-regulation was reached by 20 h and remained constant thereafter. With DHT, rapid steroid metabolism required replenishment of DHT for maximum up-regulation. Up-regulation levels following 20 h incubation with DHT (including steroid replenishment) and R1881 were 2.07-fold (range = 1.1-3.3) and 2.35-fold (range = 1.86-3.33), respectively. The greater variability observed with DHT may be related to variable rates of steroid catabolism among cell strains. Half-maximal up-regulation was attained at 0.29 nM R1881, which approximates the Kd. Maximal up-regulation was reached only with continuous exposure to R1881 for 24 h. It was completely inhibited by actinomycin D (0.5 μg/ml) or cycloheximide (10 μg/ml). Following up-regulation, removal of R1881 for 24 h resulted in a highly variable decline of androgen receptors among cell strains. Maximal up-regulation could be reinduced by exposure to R1881 again for an additional 24 h. During up-regulation, androgen receptor levels in nuclei and nuclear matrix rose with increments comparable to those obtained in whole cells. We conclude that the extent of up-regulation and its rate of decline differ greatly among normal cell strains. Hence, its study in cells of patients with androgen insensitivity may have limited value. Our data showed that up-regulation requires DNA transcription and protein synthesis. Receptor stabilization is also involved, as continuous presence of steroid is required for full up-regulation. Finally, our results suggest that up-regulation plays a role in the high affinity binding of androgen receptors hi the nuclear matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1988


  • Androgen insensitivity
  • Androgen receptor
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Methyltrienolone (R1881)
  • Skin fibroblast
  • Up-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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