Molecular biology and function of the androgen receptor in genital development.
PURPOSE: The rapidly growing field of molecular biology has caused exponential growth in our knowledge of the processes of embryogenesis. Since the cloning of the androgen receptor gene in 1988, investigators have been able to clarify many of the molecular events of male sexual differentiation that are mediated through the androgen receptor. We reviewed the current state of knowledge of the androgen receptor and its role in male genital development. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An intensive literature search was conducted to review reports on the androgen receptor and sexual differentiation since 1988. This review also includes ongoing research from our laboratory on the role of the androgen receptor in human genital development, as well as collaboration with other investigators. RESULTS: We reviewed the basic molecular biology of androgenic action mediated through the androgen receptor. This information has been integrated into the current understanding of human male sexual differentiation to clarify how androgens virilize the undifferentiated embryo. Defects in function of the androgen receptor may be manifested as a spectrum of phenotypes of the androgen insensitivity syndrome, and these phenotypes of male pseudohermaphroditism have been reviewed on a clinical and molecular basis. New molecular techniques have augmented the evaluation and diagnosis of the androgen insensitivity syndrome, and some groups have successfully diagnosed the condition prenatally. CONCLUSIONS: Basic scientific research of androgen receptor function and its role in male sexual development has provided a clearer understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the spectrum of defects secondary to the androgen insensitivity syndrome. This knowledge will enable clinicians to offer more accurate diagnosis and insightful counseling to affected patients and their families.
Wiener, JS; Teague, JL; Roth, DR; Gonzales, ET; Lamb, DJ
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