Mutations of the androgen receptor that impair the action of 5α-dihydrotestosterone and testosterone result in abnormal male sexual development. The definition of the organization of the androgen receptor gene has permitted us to examine its structure in nine patients with androgen resistance that exhibit absent 5α-dihydrotestosterone binding in cultured fibroblasts (receptor-negative androgen resistance). Using labeled probes specific for each individual coding exon, we find no gross rearrangements, insertions, or deletions of the androgen receptor gene in these patients. To analyze the genetic defect in these receptor-negative patients, we used the polymerase chain reaction to amplify each individual exon of the androgen receptor gene in nine affected patients. In all patients, the size of each amplified exon segment was identical to that in normal individuals. The nucleotide sequence of the entire coding region of the androgen receptor was determined in one of these patients. A single nucleotide substitution was identified that results in a premature termination codon in exon 6 at amino acid 794. S1 nuclease protection assays demonstrated that normal levels of androgen receptor mRNA are present in skin fibroblasts of this patient. Transfection of a mutated androgen receptor cDNA containing a termination codon at position 794 into eukaryotic cells resulted in formation of a normal amount of receptor protein, as indicated by immunoblotting, but the expressed protein does not bind 5α-dihydrotestosterone. These findings suggest that the presence of a premature termination codon at amino acid 794 of the androgen receptor is the cause of androgen resistance in this patient.
- sexual development
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