Constitutively active androgen receptor variants upregulate expression of mesenchymal markers in prostate cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: Androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathway remains the foremost target of novel therapeutics for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, the expression of constitutively active AR variants lacking the carboxy-terminal region in CRPC may lead to therapy inefficacy. These AR variants are supposed to support PCa cell growth in an androgen-depleted environment, but their mode of action still remains unresolved. Moreover, recent studies indicate that constitutively active AR variants are expressed in primary prostate tumors and may contribute to tumor progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of constitutively active AR variants on the expression of tumor progression markers. N-cadherin expression was analyzed in LNCaP cells overexpressing the wild type AR or a constitutively active AR variant by qRT-PCR, Western blot and immunofluorescence. We showed here for the first time that N-cadherin expression was increased in the presence of constitutively active AR variants. These results were confirmed in C4-2B cells overexpressing these AR variants. Although N-cadherin expression is often associated with a downregulation of E-cadherin, this phenomenon was not observed in our model. Nevertheless, in addition to the increased expression of N-cadherin, an upregulation of other mesenchymal markers expression such as VIMENTIN, SNAIL and ZEB1 was observed in the presence of constitutively active variants. In conclusion, our findings highlight novel consequences of constitutively active AR variants on the regulation of mesenchymal markers in prostate cancer.
Project description:Continued androgen receptor (AR) signaling is an established mechanism underlying castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), and suppression of androgen receptor signaling remains a therapeutic goal of CRPC therapy. Constitutively active androgen receptor splice variants (AR-Vs) lack the androgen receptor ligand-binding domain (AR-LBD), the intended target of androgen deprivation therapies including CRPC therapies such as abiraterone and MDV3100. While the canonical full-length androgen receptor (AR-FL) and AR-Vs are both increased in CRPCs, their expression regulation, associated transcriptional programs, and functional relationships have not been dissected. In this study, we show that suppression of ligand-mediated AR-FL signaling by targeting AR-LBD leads to increased AR-V expression in two cell line models of CRPCs. Importantly, treatment-induced AR-Vs activated a distinct expression signature enriched for cell-cycle genes without requiring the presence of AR-FL. Conversely, activation of AR-FL signaling suppressed the AR-Vs signature and activated expression programs mainly associated with macromolecular synthesis, metabolism, and differentiation. In prostate cancer cells and CRPC xenografts treated with MDV3100 or abiraterone, increased expression of two constitutively active AR-Vs, AR-V7 and ARV567ES, but not AR-FL, paralleled increased expression of the androgen receptor-driven cell-cycle gene UBE2C. Expression of AR-V7, but not AR-FL, was positively correlated with UBE2C in clinical CRPC specimens. Together, our findings support an adaptive shift toward AR-V-mediated signaling in a subset of CRPC tumors as the AR-LBD is rendered inactive, suggesting an important mechanism contributing to drug resistance to CRPC therapy.
Project description:Androgen receptor (AR) is a steroid receptor transcriptional factor for testosterone and dihydrotestosterone consisting of four main domains, the N-terminal domain, DNA-binding domain, hinge region, and ligand-binding domain. AR plays pivotal roles in prostate cancer, especially castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Androgen deprivation therapy can suppress hormone-naïve prostate cancer, but prostate cancer changes AR and adapts to survive under castration levels of androgen. These mechanisms include AR point mutations, AR overexpression, changes of androgen biosynthesis, constitutively active AR splice variants without ligand binding, and changes of androgen cofactors. Studies of AR in CRPC revealed that AR was still active in CRPC, and it remains as a potential target to treat CRPC. Enzalutamide is a second-generation antiandrogen effective in patients with CRPC before and after taxane-based chemotherapy. However, CRPC is still incurable and can develop drug resistance. Understanding the mechanisms of this resistance can enable new-generation therapies for CRPC. Several promising new AR-targeted therapies have been developed. Apalutamide is a new Food and Drug Administration-approved androgen agonist binding to the ligand-binding domain, and clinical trials of other new AR-targeted agents binding to the ligand-binding domain or N-terminal domain are underway. This review focuses on the functions of AR in prostate cancer and the development of CRPC and promising new agents against CRPC.
Project description:Continued androgen receptor (AR) signaling is an established mechanism underlying castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), and suppression of AR signaling remains a therapeutic goal of CRPC therapy. Constitutively active androgen receptor splicing variants (AR-Vs) lack the AR ligand-binding domain (AR-LBD), the intended target of androgen deprivation therapies (ADT) including new CRPC therapies such as abiraterone and MDV3100. While the canonical full-length AR (AR-FL) and AR-Vs are both increased in CRPC, their expression regulation, associated transcriptional programs, functional relationships, and respective roles in mediating responses to endocrine therapies have not been dissected. In this study, we show that suppression of canonical AR-FL signaling by targeting AR-LBD leads to increased AR-V expression in two cell line models of CRPC. Importantly, treatment-induced AR-Vs activate a distinct expression signature enriched for cell cycle genes without requiring the presence of AR-FL. Conversely, activation of AR-FL signaling suppresses the AR-V signature but activates expression programs mainly associated with macromolecular synthesis, metabolism, and differentiation. In prostate cancer cells and CRPC xenografts treated with MDV3100 and abiraterone, increased expression of two constitutively active AR-Vs, AR-V7 and ARV567ES, but not AR-FL, parallels increased expression of the AR-driven cell cycle gene UBE2C. In addition, protein expression of AR-V7, but not AR-FL, is positively correlated with UBE2C in clinical CRPC specimens. The cumulative in vitro and in vivo evidence support an adaptive shift toward AR-V-mediated signaling in at least a subset of CRPC tumors as the AR-LBD is rendered inactive, suggesting an important mechanism contributing to drug resistance to CRPC therapies. LNCaP cells lacking AR-V were transfected with AR-V7 with or without androgen stimulation of AR-FL (4 conditions); LNCaP95 cells expressing AR-Vs were treated with control siRNA or siRNA trageting AR-LBD or AR-DBD, with or without androgen stimulation of AR-FL (6 conditions); VCaP cells expressing AR-Vs in the presence of androgen were treated with control siRNA, siRNA trageting AR-LBD, DMSO or MDV3100 to inhibit AR-FL (4 conditions). Total 14 arrays with no replicates.
Project description:Androgen deprivation therapy remains the primary treatment modality for patients with metastatic prostate cancer but is uniformly marked by progression to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) after a period of regression. Continued activation of androgen receptor (AR) signaling is attributed as one of the most important mechanisms underlying failure of therapy. Recently, the discovery of constitutively active AR splice variants (AR-Vs) adds more credence to this idea. Expression of AR-Vs in metastases portends a rapid progression of the tumor. However, the precise role of the AR-Vs in CRPC still remains unknown. ARv567es is one of the two AR variants frequently found in human CRPC xenografts and metastases. Herein, we developed a probasin (Pb) promoter-driven ARv567es transgenic mouse, Pb-ARv567es, to evaluate the role of ARv567es in both autonomous prostate growth and progression to CRPC. We found that expression of ARv567es in the prostate results in epithelial hyperplasia by 16 weeks and invasive adenocarcinoma is evident by 1 year of age. The underlying genetic cellular events involved a cell cycle-related transcriptome and differential expression of a spectrum of genes that are critical for tumor initiation and progression. These findings indicate that ARv567es could induce tumorigenesis de novo and signifies the critical role of AR-Vs in CRPC. Thus, the Pb-ARv567es mouse could provide a novel model in which the role of AR variants in prostate cancer progression can be examined.
Project description:Despite the initial efficacy of androgen deprivation in prostate cancer, virtually all patients progress to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Androgen receptor (AR) signaling is critically required for CRPC. A new generation of medications targeting AR, such as abiraterone and enzalutamide, has improved survival of metastatic CRPC (mCRPC) patients. However, a significant proportion of patients presents with primary resistance to these agents, and in the remainder, secondary resistance will invariably develop, which makes mCRPC the lethal form of the disease. Mechanisms underlying progression to mCRPC and treatment resistance are extremely complex. AR-dependent resistance mechanisms include AR amplification, AR point mutations, expression of constitutively active AR splice variants, and altered intratumoral androgen biosynthesis. AR-independent resistance mechanisms include glucocorticoid receptor activation, immune-mediated resistance, and neuroendocrine differentiation. The development of novel agents, such as seviteronel, apalutamide, and EPI-001/EPI-506, as well as the identification and validation of novel predictive biomarkers of resistance, may lead to improved therapeutics for mCRPC patients.
Project description:One of the mechanisms by which advanced prostate cancer develops resistance to androgen deprivation therapy is the elevated expression of C-terminally truncated androgen receptor (AR) variants. These variants, such as AR-V7, originate from aberrant splicing of the AR pre-mRNA and the inclusion of a cryptic exon containing a premature stop codon in the mRNA. The resulting loss of the ligand-binding domain allows AR-V7 to act as a constitutively active transcription factor. Here, we designed two antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) directed against cryptic splicing signals within the AR pre-mRNA. These two AONs, AON-ISE and AON-ESE, demonstrated high efficiency in silencing AR-V7 splicing without affecting full-length AR expression. The subsequent downregulation of AR-V7-target gene UBE2C was accompanied by inhibition of androgen-independent cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC)-derived cell line models 22Rv1, DuCaP, and VCaP. Our results show that splicing-directed AONs can efficiently prevent expression of AR-V7, providing an attractive new therapeutic option for the treatment of CRPC.
Project description:BACKGROUND:A significant subset of prostate cancer (PC) patients with a castration-resistant form of the disease (CRPC) show primary resistance to androgen receptor (AR)-targeting drugs developed against CRPC. As one explanation could be the expression of constitutively active androgen receptor splice variants (AR-Vs), our current objectives were to study AR-Vs and other AR aberrations to better understand the emergence of CRPC. METHODS:We analysed specimens from different stages of prostate cancer by next-generation sequencing and immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:AR mutations and copy number variations were detected only in CRPC specimens. Genomic structural rearrangements of AR were observed in 5/30 metastatic CRPC patients, but they were not associated with expression of previously known AR-Vs. The predominant AR-Vs detected were AR-V3, AR-V7 and AR-V9, with the expression levels being significantly higher in CRPC cases compared to prostatectomy samples. Out of 25 CRPC metastases that expressed any AR variant, 17 cases harboured expression of all three of these AR-Vs. AR-V7 protein expression was highly heterogeneous and higher in CRPC compared to hormone-naïve tumours. CONCLUSIONS:AR-V3, AR-V7 and AR-V9 are co-expressed in CRPC metastases highlighting the fact that inhibiting AR function via regions common to all AR-Vs is likely to provide additional benefit to patients with CRPC.
Project description:Androgen receptor (AR) is a validated drug target for prostate cancer based on its role in proliferation, survival, and metastases of prostate cancer cells. Unfortunately, despite recent improvements to androgen deprivation therapy and the advent of better antiandrogens with a superior affinity for the AR ligand-binding domain (LBD), most patients with recurrent disease will eventually develop lethal metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Expression of constitutively active AR splice variants that lack the LBD contribute toward therapeutic resistance by bypassing androgen blockade and antiandrogens. In the canonical pathway, binding of androgen to AR LBD triggers the release of AR from molecular chaperones which enable conformational changes and protein-protein interactions to facilitate its nuclear translocation where it regulates the expression of target genes. However, preceding AR function in the nucleus, initial binding of androgen to AR LBD in the cytoplasm may already initiate signal transduction pathways to modulate cellular proliferation and migration. In this article, we review the significance of signal transduction pathways activated by rapid, non-genomic signaling of the AR during the progression to metastatic CRPC and put into perspective the implications for current and novel therapies that target different domains of AR.
Project description:Androgen receptor (AR) is a validated drug target for all stages of prostate cancer including metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). All current hormone therapies for CRPC target the C-terminal ligand-binding domain of AR and ultimately all fail with resumed AR transcriptional activity. Within the AR N-terminal domain (NTD) is activation function-1 (AF-1) that is essential for AR transcriptional activity. Inhibitors of AR AF-1 would potentially block most AR mechanisms of resistance including constitutively active AR splice variants that lack the ligand-binding domain. Here we provide evidence that sintokamide A (SINT1) binds AR AF-1 region to specifically inhibit transactivation of AR NTD. Consistent with SINT1 targeting AR AF-1, it attenuated transcriptional activities of both full-length AR and constitutively active AR splice variants, which correlated with inhibition of growth of enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer cells expressing AR splice variants. In vivo, SINT1 caused regression of CRPC xenografts and reduced expression of prostate-specific antigen, a gene transcriptionally regulated by AR. Inhibition of AR activity by SINT1 was additive to EPI-002, a known AR AF-1 inhibitor that is in clinical trials (NCT02606123). This implies that SINT1 binds to a site on AF-1 that is unique from EPI. Consistent with this suggestion, these two compounds showed differences in blocking AR interaction with STAT3. This work provides evidence that the intrinsically disordered NTD of AR is druggable and that SINT1 analogs may provide a novel scaffold for drug development for the treatment of prostate cancer or other diseases of the AR axis.