Single base mutations in the human androgen receptor gene causing complete androgen insensitivity: rapid detection by a modified denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis technique.
Mutations of the human androgen receptor (AR) gene impair normal sexual differentiation and development in karyotypic males, resulting in a spectrum of external genital phenotypes ranging from complete female to nearly complete male. Identification and characterization of these mutations can provide valuable information regarding the functional importance of specific amino acids of the AR. To screen for point mutations in the AR gene underlying the phenotypic abnormalities in the androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), the eight exons of the AR gene were amplified from genomic DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and analyzed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. A computer program, MELTMAP, was used to identify optimum sequences for denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, and mutation detection sensitivity was enhanced by forming heteroduplexes between control and subject PCR products to create base mismatches. In seven families with complete AIS, single base mutations were found in the region of the AR gene encoding the steroid-binding domain of the receptor. The mutations that converted amino acid 774 from Arg to His and amino acid 864 from Asp to Gly were recreated using site-directed mutagenesis and the mutant ARs expressed in COS 7 and CV1 cells. In both cases, abnormalities of androgen binding and transcriptional activation were consistent with the observed sex phenotype. These results together with others reported previously demonstrate that single amino acid changes within the region encoded by exons D to H of the AR gene can alter androgen binding and are a common cause of complete androgen resistance. The strategy used herein, employing denaturing gradient gel analysis of heteroduplex PCR products, provides a valuable aid to rapid detection of single base mutations in AIS.