The Journal of biological chemistry

Repression of androgen receptor activity by HEYL, a third member of the Hairy/Enhancer-of-split-related family of Notch effectors.

PMID 21454491


The Hairy/Enhancer-of-split-related with YRPW-like motif (HEY) family of proteins are transcriptional repressors and downstream effectors of Notch signaling. We previously reported that HEY1 and HEY2 selectively repress androgen receptor (AR) signaling in mammalian cell lines and have shown that in human tissue HEY1 is excluded from the nuclei in prostate cancer but not benign prostatic hyperplasia. We have now characterized a third member of this family, HEYL, which is a more potent repressor of AR activity. HEYL interacted with and repressed AR activation function-1 domain and competitively inhibited SRC1e activation of AR transcriptional activity. Using a cell line inducibly expressing exogenous HEYL, we showed that HEYL represses endogenous AR-regulated genes and reduces androgen-dependent prostate cancer cell growth. Using a trans-repression assay, we identified both trichostatin-sensitive and -insensitive domains within HEYL; however, analysis of endogenous AR target genes suggested that HEYL represses AR activity through histone deacetylase I/II-independent mechanisms. Immunohistochemical analyses of tissue indicated that, in a fashion similar to that previously reported for HEY1, HEYL is excluded from the nuclei in prostate cancer but not adjacent benign tissue. This suggests that nuclear exclusion of HEY proteins may be an important step in the progression of prostate cancer.