Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is an X-linked, adult-onset neuromuscular condition caused by an abnormal polyglutamine (polyQ) tract expansion in androgen receptor (AR) protein. SBMA is a disease with high unmet clinical need. Recent studies have shown that mutant AR-altered transcriptional activity is key to disease pathogenesis. Restoring the transcriptional dysregulation without affecting other AR critical functions holds great promise for the treatment of SBMA and other AR-related conditions; however, how this targeted approach can be achieved and translated into a clinical application remains to be understood. Here, we characterized the role of AR isoform 2, a naturally occurring variant encoding a truncated AR lacking the polyQ-harboring domain, as a regulatory switch of AR genomic functions in androgen-responsive tissues. Delivery of this isoform using a recombinant adeno-associated virus vector type 9 resulted in amelioration of the disease phenotype in SBMA mice by restoring polyQ AR–dysregulated transcriptional activity.
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