The androgen receptor (AR), a member of the steroid nuclear receptor family of transcription factors, regulates a wide range of physiological processes. Androgen signaling is also associated with numerous human diseases, including prostate cancer. All current antiandrogen therapies reduce ligand access to AR, whether by competitive antagonism or inhibition of androgen production, but are limited by acquired resistance and serious side-effects. Thus, novel antiandrogens that target events subsequent to ligand binding could have important therapeutic value. We developed a high throughput assay that exploits fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to measure ligand-induced conformation change in AR. We directly compared this assay to a transcription-based assay in a screen of FDA-approved compounds and natural products. The FRET-based screen identified compounds with previously unrecognized antiandrogen activities, with equivalent sensitivity and superior specificity compared to a reporter-based screen. This approach can thus improve the identification of small molecule AR inhibitors.
By Jeremy O Jones & Marc I Diamond