Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) and is associated with misfolding and aggregation of the mutant AR.
Scientists investigated the role of an interdomain interaction between the amino (N)-terminal FxxLF motif and carboxyl (C)-terminal AF-2 domain in a mouse model of SBMA.
Male transgenic mice expressing polyQ-expanded AR with a mutation in the FxxLF motif (F23A) to prevent the N/C interaction displayed substantially improved motor function compared with N/C-intact AR-expressing mice and showed reduced pathological features of SBMA.
Serine 16 phosphorylation was substantially enhanced by the F23A mutation; moreover, the protective effect of AR F23A was dependent on this phosphorylation.
These results reveal an important role for the N/C interaction on disease onset in mice and suggest that targeting AR conformation could be a therapeutic strategy for patients with SBMA.