Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology vol:352 issue:1-2 pages:13-25
This review aims to evaluate the contribution of individual cell-selective knockout models to our current understanding of androgen action. Cre/loxP technology has allowed the generation of cell-selective knockout models targeting the androgen receptor (AR) in distinct putative target cells in a wide variety of organs and tissues including: testis, ovary, accessory sex tissues, muscle, bone, fat, liver, skin and myeloid tissue. In some androgen-regulated processes such as spermatogenesis and folliculogenesis this approach has lead to the identification of a key cellular mediator of androgen action (Sertoli and granulosa cells, respectively). In many target tissues, however, the final response to androgens appears to be more complex. Here, cell-selective knockout technology offers a platform upon which we can begin to unravel the more complex interplay and signaling pathways of androgens. A prototypic example is the analysis of mesenchymal-epithelial interactions in many accessory sex glands. Furthermore, for some actions of testosterone, in which part of the effect is mediated by the active metabolite 17β-estradiol, conditional knockout technology offers a novel strategy to study the relative contribution of AR and estrogen receptor-mediated signaling. The latter approach has already resulted in a better understanding of androgen action in brain and bone. Finally, cell-selective knockout technology has generated valuable models to search for AR-controlled molecular mediators of androgen action, a strategy that has successfully been applied to the study of androgen action in the testis and in the epididymis. Although some conditional knockout models have provided clear answers to physiologic questions, it should be noted that others have pointed to unexpected complexities or technical limitations confounding interpretation of the results.