BACKGROUND - The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of different transactivating regions of the androgen receptor (AR) to the induction of androgen-regulated promoters in poorly (PC3 cells) and well-differentiated (LNCaP cells) prostate cancer cell lines.
METHODS - PC3 and LNCaP cells were co-transfected with plasmids expressing full-length AR or deletion mutants together with luciferase reporters linked to the probasin (PB) and PSA promoters; as well as to ARR3tk, a PB-derived recombinant promoter.
RESULTS - Androgen induction of the ARR3tk promoter in the presence of AR was 8- to 10-fold higher than that seen with the PB promoter. Activation of ARR3tk was greatest with an androgen-independent construct in which the first 231 amino acids and the ligand binding domain had been removed, indicating that this promoter is more responsive to activating functions in the N-terminal domain than in the ligand binding domain. By comparison, induction of the PB promoter was greatest with the full-length AR, which suggests that the ligand binding domain also makes a major contribution to the activation of this promoter. In similar analyses with the PSA promoter, AR regions required for promoter induction was dependent on the host cell type. In PC3 cells, the predominant AR transactivation function was androgen-independent and resided in the N-terminal domain, whereas in LNCaP cells, the highest level of induction was androgen dependent and also required participation of the ligand binding domain.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results indicate that the relative utilization of transactivating functions in N-terminal and ligand binding domains of the AR is promoter and cell specific.