A multifunctional androgen receptor screening assay using the high-throughput Hypercyt flow cytometry system.
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The androgen receptor (AR) is a steroid hormone receptor which regulates transcription of androgen-sensitive genes and is responsible for the development and maintenance of male secondary sexual characteristics. Chemicals that interfere with AR activity may lead to pathological conditions in androgen-sensitive tissues. A variety of reporter systems have been developed, driven by androgen-sensitive promoters, which screen for chemicals that modulate androgenic activity. We have developed a flexible, high-throughput AR transcriptional activation assay, designated the Multifunctional Androgen Receptor Screening (MARS) assay, to facilitate the identification of novel modulators of AR transcriptional activity using flow cytometry. Androgen-independent human prostate cancer-derived PC3 cells were transiently cotransfected with an expression vector for the wild-type human AR and an androgen-sensitive promoter regulating the expression of destabilized enhanced GFP (dsEGFP). The transfected cells were stimulated with established androgenic and antiandrogenic compounds and assessed for increased or decreased dsEGFP expression. To screen for antagonists of AR transcription, the AR agonist R1881 was coadministered at submaximal concentrations with potential AR antagonists. The assay was formatted for high-throughput screening using the HyperCyt flow cytometry system. Agents with established androgenic and antiandrogenic activity were used for validation of the MARS assay. AR agonists were found to potently induce dsEGFP. Furthermore, AR agonists induced dsEGFP expression in a dose-dependent manner. Alternatively, AR antagonists blocked dsEGFP expression when coadministered with low-dose R1881, which also occurred in a dose-dependent manner. Modulators of AR transcriptional activity can be successfully identified by the MARS assay, utilizing a rapid, flexible, sensitive, and high-throughput format. Dose-response curves can be successfully generated for these compounds, allowing for an assessment of potency. Because of its simplicity and high-throughput compatibility, the MARS assay and HyperCyt system combined with flow cytometric analysis represents a valuable and novel addition to the current repertoire of AR transcriptional activation screening assays.(c) 2008 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.