Experimental feminizing HRT
PLEASE DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! This is highly experimental and incredibly dangerous stuff.
- 1 Experimental Regimen: Epigenetic change reversal with Bicalutamide or Mifepristone
- 2 Experimental Regimen: Fixing breast development with prolactin linked with IGF-1
- 3 Experimental Regimen: Neo-ovaries/testicles through RNA interference with FOXL2 and DMRT1
- 4 Experimental Regimen: Obliterating the androgen machinery
- 5 References
Experimental Regimen: Epigenetic change reversal with Bicalutamide or Mifepristone
Some androgen receptor antagonists, such as mifepristone or potentially bicalutamide, actually have the ability to cause the androgen receptor to start recruiting corepressors instead of coactivators, which may undo the irreversible or slowly reversible changes in gene expression caused by the AR.While further research is needed, it appears that other anti-androgens don't cause corepressors to be recruited by the AR, or they still prevent the translocation of the AR from the cytosol into the nucleus. The following plan bears many similarities to the hormone therapy used for prostate cancer.
Here's an example plan:
- Measure PSA levels as a baseline measurement of the expression of androgen-dependent genes, as well as free/bound T levels.
- Nil out bodily production of testosterone using GnRH agonists/antagonists, so that available androgen receptors are mostly in the cytosol. Wait 1-2 weeks for magic to happen.
- Measure PSA and T levels again. Low T levels should confirm that testosterone is no longer actively circulating, so new androgen receptors are sitting bored in the cytosol waiting for somebody to come bind to them. Existing androgen receptors may still be in the nucleus! PSA levels should be trending downwards due to ARs slowly going away, but not nil yet.
- Run a course of bicalutamide or mifepristone. This will bind to the ARs in the cytosol, bring them into the nucleus and start assembling the AR protein complex around the AREs (e.g. the promoter and the enhancer PSA gene AREs.) However, in the absence of T, corepressors will be attached to the AR rather than coactivators. Thus, the histones will be deactivated and the androgen-dependent genes such as PSA will no longer be expressed.
- Measure PSA levels again. PSA should be near nil before moving to the next step.
- Discontinue bicalutamide or mifepristone. At this point, the epigenetic changes should have been undone! Additionally, any testosterone left should have been kicked out of the ARs by bicalutamide/mifepristone, and degraded via aromatase.
- GnRH antagonists can now be withdrawn (since they're crazy expensive), and replaced with an anti-androgen which prevents the translocation of the ARs into the nucleus (e.g. cyproterone acetate), or even spironolactone + estradiol, as long as T levels remain safely in cis female ranges.
Breast development is directed by estrogen, but fueled by Insulin-like Growth Factor 1. IGF-1 starts high, spikes during puberty and crashes down starting around age 23 in us humans. This is probably why HRT works the earlier, the better! Once IGF-1 crashes, you might be out of luck, depending on your genes.
So clearly, this sucks. But if we just need IGF-1, could we just boost some from the nearest bodybuilder and start doping ourselves?
Sadly, no! One could, but it seems decidedly ill-advised. IGF-1 grows you, beyond healthy adult phase, causing acromegaly (super-sharp jaws and chin and wide mandibles), which is irreversible! If we could rewind IGF-1, we could play ourselves back to early childhood.
...which would be amazing, and I should write about it, but not tonight!
So what we need is targeted IGF-1, growing only the estrogen-sensitive tissues in our skin. This would include widening the hips, no idea on ribcage/other skeletal muscles, but most tittlingly (I had to go there, sorry!) the breasts!
If we want to target IGF-1 only breast tissue, we can link IGF-1 with another peptide, prolactin, which guides Tanner Stage IV breast development, conjugating the peptides together with a simple protein linkage to act like a chain between two barbells. This hybrid prolactin-IGF-1 protein would latch onto prolactin receptors, activating them (which is also crucial in guiding breast development, not just the areola!) Anchored to this prolactin receptor, the IGF-1 ligand would bounce around until it latches onto an IGF-1 receptor, activating it.
So we've activated the IGF-1 receptor, and the prolactin receptor together! Which is good. Both activate signaling pathways, which work in concert to develop and kick the breasts past Tanner Stage V.
The half-life of both IGF-1 and prolactin are very short, on the order of ~15 minutes. Fortunately, we can use that to our advantage! We want to make sure that the prolactin reaches her target and, once there, the IGF-1 should stay where she puts her.
Fortunately, we can use IGF-1 LR3, a modified form of IGF-1 that has a biological half-life of ~24 hours, instead of 15 minutes. This way, IGF-1 has 15 minutes to find its way onto the breasts' prolactin receptors, and then it will be cleaved, leaving IGF-1 LR3 around the cells for the rest of the day activating things!
Next, we want to keep the IGF-1 from activating any other tissues -- only the breasts -- so we can evade the pitfall of acromegaly, and benign brain tumors like prolactinoma! In order to do this, we have to:
1. Keep the IGF-1 end from activating any tissue which doesn't have prolactin.
Fortunately, prolactin has 198 amino acids, while IGF-1 has only 70. So it won't feasibly fit into IGF-1 receptors unless it's bound or cleaved! And by the time it's cleaved, the IGF-1 should mostly be socializing with the mammary cells in the breasts.
2. Keep the prolactin end from crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Fortunately, since prolactin has to be dragged across the BBB. IGF-1 may be enough of an impedance to prevent the prolactin end from hitting the tight junction.
Buuuut, if you have to, you could conjugate the IGF-1 to IGFBP-3, its bulky binding protein. That should keep the assembly from being large enough to cross! Especially if it folds in the prolactin residue either (eh, find out during folding!)
Outline of the Plan
Initially, we proof-of-concept on computers. Use docking software to simulate different prototype proteins, looking at their folded structure and scoping out their binding affinity for the prolactin receptor and IGF-1 receptors.
Using the computer, start with the simplest versions, and go more complex:
1. IGF-1-prolactin linkage by itself... do the proteins hug? Hugs aren't drugs!
2. Prolactin end still binds to prolactin receptor.
3. IGF-1 end still binds to the IGF-1 receptor.
4. Play with different residue chain lengths.
5. Try docking IGF-1-prolactin with IGFBP-3.
Okay, now that that's over, we need to make it!
1. Get DNA sequence + simple prokaryote promoter sequence synthesized by one of those internet sites.
2. PCR to amp DNA up a bit!
3. Make DNA get sticky ends, integrate into bacteria.
4. Culture bacteria.
5. Extract protein, centrifuge, LC/MS chromatography to confirm fraction is pure.
The fraction will be added to PBS or TRIS or whatever, and potentially IGFBP-3 would be mixed in. Then you take the fraction to bacteriostatic water, add preservative, bottle, inject!
Experimental Regimen: Neo-ovaries/testicles through RNA interference with FOXL2 and DMRT1
This is a moon-shot project to reprogram the testes into ovaries, or the ovaries into testes! (Kinda.)
The war between FOXL2 (♀) and SOX9/DMRT1 (♂)
In the SRY signaling cascade, gonads have a sort of "toggle switch." If FOXL2 is active, then SOX9 is suppressed and the gonads become ovaries. If SOX9 is active, then FOXL2 is suppressed an the gonads become ovaries. Remarkably, researchers have reprogrammed the ovaries into testes by blocking FOXL2 in adult mice! Similarly, blocking DMRT1 in adult mice reprograms the testes into "mini-ovaries." Unfortunately, both variants were infertile, but we saw the cells reorganize, "cis" levels of hormones produced etc. So what if we could block these genes in adult humans?
RNA interference is a technique to silence the transcription of selected genes, by producing an RNA strand complimentary to the mRNA transcript of the selected gene which will be recognized as belonging to an invading virus by the body, and blocked from getting to the ribosome. SNALPs are lipid membranes which contain copies of siRNA. When they hit a cell, they fuse with the cell membrane, disbursing the interfering RNA into the cell.
We could use RNA interference to block either FOXL2 or DMRT1. Several drugs currently in phase III FDA trials use RNAi, which seems to demonstrate that in principle enough of the kinks have been worked out to try on humans. We'd find a region of messenger RNA for FOXL2 or DMRT1 that could be blocked using RNAi, then encase the interfering siRNA in SNALPs and deliver it to the cells, probably by injection or whatever the FDA trials did. We should be able to judge efficacy by trying it in testis/ovary tissue culture.
- Identify interfering siRNA sequence
- Acquire DNA for siRNA
- RNA polymerase to amplify siRNA
- SNALP formation
- Sonication to embed siRNA within SNALP
- Safety checks on siRNA purity
- SNALP preparation protocol
- Protocols used by FDA trials of RNAi
- Previous roadblocks with RNAi
Experimental Regimen: Obliterating the androgen machinery
Ever wonder why you still have dark body hair, after being on estrogen for two years? Maybe some patches of hair, perhaps on your arms, have lightened up, and you still have brown chest hairs? Why do you have to get laser or electrolysis in the first place?
Life of an Androgen Receptor
Why's masculine body hair dark?
Androgen receptors (ARs) chill in the cytosol, outside the nucleus of a cell, feeling single and lonely. Testosterone swims by outside, doing laps until a hexagonal gate in the cell membrane opens, pulling it in down a slippery slide of electromagnetic charge. The testosterone swims in the cytosol for a while, until it activates an AR. Once testosterone, like a key, fits inside the AR's lock, the ARs twist open to expose a foot. Next, a rowboat comes up, grabs ahold of the two ARs' feet and paddles down to the nucleus, where it's shuttled inside. That's where all the cool DNA hangs out. It's in the VIP room, baby!
Next to the genes for facial and male-pattern body hair (HHA6 and HHA7, I think, too lazy to look it up), there's a little palindrome of DNA (AGAACA, upside-down and reversed on the other strand spells the same) called an Androgen Response Element! (ARE.) Each AR has a single arm on it, which latches onto only that palindrome. Behold! With both their arms, they clamp down on the ARE and snap tight. The AR's other head is a handle for RNA polymerase, which kicks off making the gene south of the ARE into a protein. The AR flips a switch, the HHA6 and HHA7 keratin is made, and your hair is black.
(Btw, if you don't have dark body hair, it's because you have different keratins in your DNA. Each hair is a braid of different keratins.))
Okay, so that stops when I go on blockers, right?
Nope! That AR is good and stuck on there. Your blockers just prevent more T from being produced. But those ARs in the nucleus? That machinery already has its T. And it has staying power! Proteins outside the nucleus get scavenged all the time -- busy like outdoor downtown New York, with street sweepers and trash collectors. But inside? You're in the VIP room! They don't come in there! They need a badge, and the ones they let in are selective.
Okay, but surely there's someone to take the trash out inside the nucleus, right?
Well, kinda. Think of the AR machinery as a button that got pressed. Normally, when you press a button inside the nucleus, you want it to stay pressed. Unless you decide to un-press it, because of the little molecular program you got going on there. Think of DNA binding proteins as 1s in the memory bank of the cell. The absence of a protein is a zero. Testosterone just flips the 0 to a 1, and suddenly the cell's function changes! Fucking magic!
But... I want to flip it to zero!
Okay, story time's over now. Down to business. When someone wants to take a hit out on a 1, they need a... professional. Too chicken, I guess, to do it themself? E3 ubiquitin ligase is the best in the business.... discreet, clean and efficient. But it won't work for free... it needs... you know, payment for services rendered.
We gotta pay for our hit on the androgen receptor.
I'm in. Let's do this.
Okay, so here's the plan: we wanna send in a Proteolysis-targeting chimera. Here's how you build it:
Our in is dioxin. Dioxin's the poison they used on Victor Yushchenko. It works by paying off our professional, E3UL, to remove all the nuclear receptors, indiscriminately. As Paracelsus said, every medicine is at some dose a poison. Every poison at a smaller dose is a medicine! No, really! You're skeptical, but hear me out. We tie dioxin to testosterone, linking it together.
E3UL does good work, as long as he has a contract. We have to tie the money to a particular hit, not just "kill some random guy."
We'll kill all the ARs by making a contract with E3UL, paying it to kill only ARs.
Let's take dioxin and testosterone, and weld them together! Dioxin activates the Dioxin receptor, which is a brand of E3UL. Testosterone loves cozying up to androgen receptors. That'll let us shoot the AR in the head. If we want to shoot AR in the stomach, we can stick something that looks like an AGAACA on it. We can't use straight AGAACA though, because the DNA cops outside the nucleus rip all the DNA they see to shreds. Fucking DNA cops, man. ADNACAB!!! Let's assume we're going with the head-shot for now.
So, we get someone to synthesize our welded T-dioxin kill contract together. It's easy to stick things onto T, so it shouldn't cost much, and you can get batches of this stuff from labs around the world, shipped to your house's door. We don't need much... nowhere near enough to be dangerous like dioxin is. Near-homeopathic amounts of the stuff.
Then all you have to do is inject it, just like you'd do a shot of estrogen! With more careful measuring and your finger on the dial to 911, of course.
...Maybe I should volunteer myself, since I have good health insurance? :)
- DMRT1 prevents female reprogramming in the postnatal mammalian testis
- Sexual Cell-Fate Reprogramming in the Ovary by DMRT1 (supplementary)
- Somatic sex reprogramming of adult ovaries to testes by FOXL2 ablation (open access!)
- The Androgen Receptor Recruits Nuclear Receptor CoRepressor (N-CoR) in the Presence of Mifepristone via Its N and C Termini Revealing a Novel Molecular Mechanism for Androgen Receptor Antagonists