Androgen receptor (AR) splice variants are proposed to be a potential driver of lethal castration-resistant prostate cancer. AR splice variant 7 (ARv7) is the most commonly observed isoform and strongly correlates with resistance to second-generation anti-androgens. Despite this clinical evidence, the interplay between ARv7 and the highly expressed full-length AR (ARfl) remains unclear. In this work, we show that ARfl/ARv7 heterodimers readily form in the nucleus via an intermolecular N/C interaction that brings the four termini of the proteins in close proximity. Combining fluorescence resonance energy transfer and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we demonstrate that these heterodimers undergo conformational changes following DNA binding, indicating dynamic nuclear receptor interaction. Although transcriptionally active, ARv7 can only form short-term interactions with DNA at highly accessible high-occupancy ARfl binding sites. Dimerization with ARfl does not affect ARv7 binding dynamics, suggesting that DNA binding occupancy is determined by the individual protein monomers and not the homodimer or heterodimer complex. Overall, these biophysical studies reveal detailed properties of ARv7 dynamics as both a homodimer or heterodimer with ARfl.

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