Nuclear exclusion of the androgen receptor by melatonin

Avi Rimler, Zoran Culig, Zippora Lupowitz, Nava Zisapel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Androgen receptors (AR) play a crucial role in androgen-mediated processes and prostate cancer progression. The pineal hormone melatonin attenuates the androgen-dependent growth of benign and cancer prostate epithelial cells in vitro and may reverse clinical resistance to androgen ablation therapy in patients progressing on gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue. Where along the AR cascade does melatonin act remains to be determined. The effects of melatonin on AR localization, level and activity were assessed using androgen-insensitive prostate carcinoma PC3 cells stably transfected with a wild-type AR-expressing vector (PC3-AR). AR was localized to the PC3-AR cell nucleus in the absence of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Melatonin caused a robust exclusion of the AR from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm. The nuclear export inhibitor, leptomycin B prevented this process. The exclusion was selective since melatonin had no such effect on the nuclear localization of estrogen receptors α (ERα) in these cells. Melatonin also caused nuclear exclusion of the AR in the presence of DHT. In addition, it attenuated androgen induced reporter gene activity in PC3 cells co-transfected with the human AR and AR reporter plasmids. Elevated androgen concentrations counteracted melatonin's effects. Melatonin did not decrease AR level or androgen binding in the cells. The nuclear localization of the AR is a hallmark of its cellular activity. These data point to AR nuclear exclusion as a possible mechanism to attenuate androgen responses in target tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Androgen
  • Localization
  • Melatonin
  • Prostate
  • Receptor


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