An androgen receptor NH2-terminal conserved motif interacts with the COOH terminus of the Hsp70-interacting protein (CHIP)
The NH2-terminal sequence of steroid receptors is highly variable between different receptors and in the same receptor from different species. In this study, a primary sequence homology comparison identified a 14-amino acid NH2-terminal motif of the human androgen receptor (AR) that is common to AR from all species reported, including the lower vertebrates. The evolutionarily conserved motif is unique to AR, with the exception of a partial sequence in the glucocorticoid receptor of higher species. The presence of the conserved motif in AR and the glucocorticoid receptor and its absence in other steroid receptors suggests convergent evolution. The function of the AR NH2-terminal conserved motif was suggested from a yeast two-hybrid screen that identified the COOH terminus of the Hsp70-interacting protein (CHIP) as a binding partner. We found that CHIP functions as a negative regulator of AR transcriptional activity by promoting AR degradation. In support of this, two mutations in the AR NH2-terminal conserved motif previously identified in the transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate model reduced the interaction between CHIP and AR. Our results suggest that the AR NH2-terminal domain contains an evolutionarily conserved motif that functions to limit AR transcriptional activity. Moreover, we demonstrate that the combination of comparative sequence alignment and yeast two-hybrid screening using short conserved peptides as bait provides an effective strategy to probe the structure-function relationships of steroid receptor NH2-terminal domains and other intrinsically unstructured transcriptional regulatory proteins.