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Open access

Frédéric R Santer, Kamilla Malinowska, Zoran Culig, and Ilaria T Cavarretta

Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is suggested to have a pathogenic role in the progression of prostate cancer (PC), therefore representing an attractive target for new therapies. However, due to the pleiotropy of this cytokine, targeting IL-6 results in different and unpredictable responses. In order to better understand the mechanisms underlying the different responses to the cytokine, we focused our attention on IL-6 receptors (IL-6Rs) that represent the first element in the cascade of cytokine-activated signalling pathways. IL-6 signal transduction may indeed occur through the membrane IL-6R (classical signalling) and/or through the less studied soluble IL-6R (sIL-6R; IL-6 trans-signalling (IL-6TS)). We provide the first evidence how responses to IL-6 may depend on the different content of IL-6Rs in PC. In particular, the studies of 3H-thymidine incorporation and exploitation of different approaches (i.e. activation or inhibition of IL-6TS in sIL-6R-negative and -positive cell lines and transfection of IL-6R siRNA) allowed us to demonstrate that IL-6TS specifically accounts for an anti-proliferative effect of the cytokine in three PC cell lines that are known to respond differently to IL-6. Additionally, by applying migration-, scratch- and adhesion assays, we show that IL-6TS increases motility and migration and decreases adhesion of prostate cells facilitating thereby processes that determine metastasis initiation and spread. Finally, by western analyses, we uncovered an IL-6- and sIL-6R-dependent downregulation of the tumour suppressor maspin. Collectively, these data suggest that selective targeting of IL-6TS might allow to refine the currently available experimental anti-IL-6 therapies against PC.

Open access

Su Jung Oh, Holger H H Erb, Alfred Hobisch, Frédéric R Santer, and Zoran Culig

Antihormonal and chemotherapy are standard treatments for nonorgan-confined prostate cancer. The effectivity of these therapies is limited and the development of alternative approaches is necessary. In the present study, we report on the use of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib in a panel of prostate cancer cell lines and their derivatives which mimic endocrine and chemotherapy resistance. 3H-thymidine incorporation assays revealed that sorafenib causes a dose-dependent inhibition of proliferation of all cell lines associated with downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 and cyclin D1 expression. Apoptosis was induced at 2 μM of sorafenib in androgen-sensitive cells, whereas a higher dose of the drug was needed in castration-resistant cell lines. Sorafenib stimulated apoptosis in prostate cancer cell lines through downregulation of myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1) expression and Akt phosphorylation. Although concentrations of sorafenib required for the antitumor effect in therapy-resistant sublines were higher than those needed in parental cells, the drug showed efficacy in cells which became resistant to bicalutamide and docetaxel respectively. Most interestingly, we show that sorafenib has an inhibitory effect on androgen receptor (AR) and prostate-specific antigen expression. In cells in which AR expression was downregulated by short interfering RNA, the treatment with sorafenib increased apoptosis in an additive manner. In summary, the results of the present study indicate that there is a potential to use sorafenib in prostate cancers as an adjuvant therapy option to current androgen ablation treatments, but also in progressed prostate cancers that become unresponsive to standard therapies.

Open access

Julia Hoefer, Johann Kern, Philipp Ofer, Iris E Eder, Georg Schäfer, Dimo Dietrich, Glen Kristiansen, Stephan Geley, Johannes Rainer, Eberhard Gunsilius, Helmut Klocker, Zoran Culig, and Martin Puhr

Deregulation of cytokine and growth factor signaling due to an altered expression of endogenous regulators is well recognized in prostate cancer (PCa) and other cancers. Suppressor of cytokine signaling 2 (SOCS2) is a key regulator of the GH, IGF, and prolactin signaling pathways that have been implicated in carcinogenesis. In this study, we evaluated the expression patterns and functional significance of SOCS2 in PCa. Protein expression analysis employing tissue microarrays from two independent patient cohorts revealed a significantly enhanced expression in tumor tissue compared with benign tissue as well as association with Gleason score and disease progression. In vitro and in vivo assays uncovered the involvement of SOCS2 in the regulation of cell growth and apoptosis. Functionally, SOCS2 knockdown inhibited PCa cell proliferation and xenograft growth in a CAM assay. Decreased cell growth after SOCS2 downregulation was associated with cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. In addition, we proved that SOCS2 expression is significantly elevated upon androgenic stimulation in androgen receptor (AR)-positive cell lines, providing a possible mechanistic explanation for high SOCS2 levels in PCa tissue. Consequently, SOCS2 expression correlated with AR expression in the malignant tissue of patients. On the whole, our study linked increased SOCS2 expression in PCa with a pro-proliferative role in vitro and in vivo.

Open access

Birgit Luef, Florian Handle, Gvantsa Kharaishvili, Martina Hager, Johannes Rainer, Günter Janetschek, Stephan Hruby, Christine Englberger, Jan Bouchal, Frédéric R Santer, and Zoran Culig

Due to the urgent need for new prostate cancer (PCa) therapies, the role of androgen receptor (AR)-interacting proteins should be investigated. In this study we aimed to address whether the AR coactivator nuclear receptor coactivator 1 (NCOA1) is involved in PCa progression. Therefore, we tested the effect of long-term NCOA1 knockdown on processes relevant to metastasis formation. [3H]-thymidine incorporation assays revealed a reduced proliferation rate in AR-positive MDA PCa 2b and LNCaP cells upon knockdown of NCOA1, whereas AR-negative PC3 cells were not affected. Furthermore, Boyden chamber assays showed a strong decrease in migration and invasion upon NCOA1 knockdown, independently of the cell line’s AR status. In order to understand the mechanistic reasons for these changes, transcriptome analysis using cDNA microarrays was performed. Protein kinase D1 (PRKD1) was found to be prominently up-regulated by NCOA1 knockdown in MDA PCa 2b, but not in PC3 cells. Inhibition of PRKD1 reverted the reduced migratory potential caused by NCOA1 knockdown. Furthermore, PRKD1 was negatively regulated by AR. Immunohistochemical staining of PCa patient samples revealed a strong increase in NCOA1 expression in primary tumors compared with normal prostate tissue, while no final conclusion could be drawn for PRKD1 expression in tumor specimens. Thus, our findings directly associate the AR/NCOA1 complex with PRKD1 regulation and cellular migration and support the concept of therapeutic inhibition of NCOA1 in PCa.

Open access

Jan Kroon, Martin Puhr, Jeroen T Buijs, Geertje van der Horst, Daniëlle M Hemmer, Koen A Marijt, Ming S Hwang, Motasim Masood, Stefan Grimm, Gert Storm, Josbert M Metselaar, Onno C Meijer, Zoran Culig, and Gabri van der Pluijm

Resistance to docetaxel is a major clinical problem in advanced prostate cancer (PCa). Although glucocorticoids (GCs) are frequently used in combination with docetaxel, it is unclear to what extent GCs and their receptor, the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), contribute to the chemotherapy resistance. In this study, we aim to elucidate the role of the GR in docetaxel-resistant PCa in order to improve the current PCa therapies. GR expression was analyzed in a tissue microarray of primary PCa specimens from chemonaive and docetaxel-treated patients, and in cultured PCa cell lines with an acquired docetaxel resistance (PC3-DR, DU145-DR, and 22Rv1-DR). We found a robust overexpression of the GR in primary PCa from docetaxel-treated patients and enhanced GR levels in cultured docetaxel-resistant human PCa cells, indicating a key role of the GR in docetaxel resistance. The capability of the GR antagonists (RU-486 and cyproterone acetate) to revert docetaxel resistance was investigated and revealed significant resensitization of docetaxel-resistant PCa cells for docetaxel treatment in a dose- and time-dependent manner, in which a complete restoration of docetaxel sensitivity was achieved in both androgen receptor (AR)-negative and AR-positive cell lines. Mechanistically, we demonstrated down-regulation of Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 upon GR antagonism, thereby defining potential treatment targets. In conclusion, we describe the involvement of the GR in the acquisition of docetaxel resistance in human PCa. Therapeutic targeting of the GR effectively resensitizes docetaxel-resistant PCa cells. These findings warrant further investigation of the clinical utility of the GR antagonists in the management of patients with advanced and docetaxel-resistant PCa.

Open access

Holger H H Erb, Regina V Langlechner, Patrizia L Moser, Florian Handle, Tineke Casneuf, Karin Verstraeten, Bettina Schlick, Georg Schäfer, Brett Hall, Kate Sasser, Zoran Culig, and Frédéric R Santer

Development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa) are associated with chronic inflammation. The cytokine interleukin 6 (IL6) can influence progression, differentiation, survival, and angiogenesis of PCa. To identify novel pathways that are triggered by IL6, we performed a gene expression profiling of two PCa cell lines, LNCaP and MDA PCa 2b, treated with 5 ng/ml IL6. Interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 9 (IRF9) was identified as one of the most prevalent IL6-regulated genes in both cell lines. IRF9 is a mediator of type I IFN signaling and acts together with STAT1 and 2 to activate transcription of IFN-responsive genes. The IL6 regulation of IRF9 was confirmed at mRNA and protein levels by quantitative real-time PCR and western blot respectively in both cell lines and could be blocked by the anti-IL6 antibody Siltuximab. Three PCa cell lines, PC3, Du-145, and LNCaP-IL6+, with an autocrine IL6 loop displayed high expression of IRF9. A tissue microarray with 36 PCa tissues showed that IRF9 protein expression is moderately elevated in malignant areas and positively correlates with the tissue expression of IL6. Downregulation and overexpression of IRF9 provided evidence for an IFN-independent role of IRF9 in cellular proliferation of different PCa cell lines. Furthermore, expression of IRF9 was essential to mediate the antiproliferative effects of IFNα2. We concluded that IL6 is an inducer of IRF9 expression in PCa and a sensitizer for the antiproliferative effects of IFNα2.

Open access

Martina Gruber, Lavinia Ferrone, Martin Puhr, Frédéric R Santer, Tobias Furlan, Iris E Eder, Natalie Sampson, Georg Schäfer, Florian Handle, and Zoran Culig

Administration of the microtubule inhibitor docetaxel is a common treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) and results in prolonged patient overall survival. Usually, after a short period of time chemotherapy resistance emerges and there is urgent need to find new therapeutic targets to overcome therapy resistance. The lysine-acetyltransferase p300 has been correlated to prostate cancer (PCa) progression. Here, we aimed to clarify a possible function of p300 in chemotherapy resistance and verify p300 as a target in chemoresistant PCa. Immunohistochemistry staining of tissue samples revealed significantly higher p300 protein expression in patients who received docetaxel as a neoadjuvant therapy compared to control patients. Elevated p300 expression was confirmed by analysis of publicly available patient data, where significantly higher p300 mRNA expression was found in tissue of mCRPC tumors of docetaxel-treated patients. Consistently, docetaxel-resistant PCa cells showed increased p300 protein expression compared to docetaxel-sensitive counterparts. Docetaxel treatment of PCa cells for 72 h resulted in elevated p300 expression. shRNA-mediated p300 knockdown did not alter colony formation efficiency in docetaxel-sensitive cells, but significantly reduced clonogenic potential of docetaxel-resistant cells. Downregulation of p300 in docetaxel-resistant cells also impaired cell migration and invasion. Taken together, we showed that p300 is upregulated by docetaxel, and our findings suggest that p300 is a possible co-target in treatment of chemoresistant PCa.