LSD1 demethylates repressive histone marks to promote androgen-receptor-dependent transcription.
Gene regulation in eukaryotes requires the coordinate interaction of chromatin-modulating proteins with specific transcription factors such as the androgen receptor. Gene activation and repression is specifically regulated by histone methylation status at distinct lysine residues. Here we show that lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1; also known as BHC110) co-localizes with the androgen receptor in normal human prostate and prostate tumour. LSD1 interacts with androgen receptor in vitro and in vivo, and stimulates androgen-receptor-dependent transcription. Conversely, knockdown of LSD1 protein levels abrogates androgen-induced transcriptional activation and cell proliferation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses demonstrate that androgen receptor and LSD1 form chromatin-associated complexes in a ligand-dependent manner. LSD1 relieves repressive histone marks by demethylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3-K9), thereby leading to de-repression of androgen receptor target genes. Furthermore, we identify pargyline as an inhibitor of LSD1. Pargyline blocks demethylation of H3-K9 by LSD1 and consequently androgen-receptor-dependent transcription. Thus, modulation of LSD1 activity offers a new strategy to regulate androgen receptor functions. Here, we link demethylation of a repressive histone mark with androgen-receptor-dependent gene activation, thus providing a mechanism by which demethylases control specific gene expression.