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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.

Free access

Xinyu Wu, Shiaoching Gong, Pradip Roy-Burman, Peng Lee, and Zoran Culig

Mouse models of prostate cancer (PCa) are critical for understanding the biology of PCa initiation, progression, and treatment modalities. Here, we summarize recent advances in PCa mouse models that led to new insights into specific gene functions in PCa. For example, the study of transgenic mice with TMPRSS2/ERG, an androgen-regulated fusion protein, revealed its role in developing PCa precursor lesions, prostate intraepithelial neoplasia; however, it is not sufficient for PCa development. Double deficiency of Pten and Smad4 leads to a high incidence of metastatic PCa. Targeted deletion of Pten in castration-resistant Nkx3-1-expressing cells results in rapid carcinoma formation after androgen-mediated regeneration, indicating that progenitor cells with luminal characteristics can play a role in initiation of PCa. Transgenic mice with activated oncogenes, growth factors, and steroid hormone receptors or inactivated tumor suppressors continue to provide insights into disease progression from initiation to metastasis. Further development of new PCa models with spatial and temporal regulation of candidate gene expression will probably enhance our understanding of the complex events that lead to PCa initiation and progression, thereby invoking novel strategies to combat this common disease in men.

Free access

Martin Puhr, Frédéric R Santer, Hannes Neuwirt, Gemma Marcias, Alfred Hobisch, and Zoran Culig

Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) is highly expressed in prostate cancer. It promotes tumour progression through multiple pathways including those of signal transducers and activators of transcription factor 3 (STAT3), mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and Akt. In previous studies, we have reported that STAT3 phosphorylation inversely correlates with suppressor of cytokine signalling-3 (SOCS-3) expression in prostate cancer cells. Recently, it has become evident that SOCS-3-negative regulation is not only limited to the interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor. We hypothesised that SOCS-3 interferes with FGF signalling, thus influencing the outcome of its action in prostate cancer cells. For this purpose, we treated DU-145 and LNCaP-IL-6+ cells with increasing concentrations of FGF-2, and verified protein phosphorylation. In the presence of FGF-2, neither STAT3, STAT1, nor Akt could be phosphorylated. Solely the p44/p42 MAPK pathway was activated after FGF-2 stimulation. We show for the first time that SOCS-3 interferes with the FGF-2 signalling pathway by modulating p44 and p42 phosphorylation in prostate cancer cells. Decreased SOCS-3 protein expression results in increased MAPK phosphorylation, whereas SOCS-3 overexpression leads to a decreased cellular proliferation and migration. On the basis of the present results, we propose that SOCS-3 is a novel modulator of FGF-2-regulated cellular events in prostate cancer.

Free access

Hannes Neuwirt, Martin Puhr, Ilaria T Cavarretta, Michael Mitterberger, Alfred Hobisch, and Zoran Culig

Suppressors of cytokine signalling (SOCS) are induced by interleukins (ILs) and various peptide hormones and may prevent sustained activation of signalling pathways. We have previously shown that SOCS-3 antagonizes regulation of cellular events by cAMP and is expressed in human prostate cancer. To investigate possible effects of androgen on SOCS-3 protein expression, two prostate cancer cell lines (PC3-AR and LAPC4) were treated with different concentrations of R1881. Western blot analyses revealed induction of SOCS-3 protein expression in both cell lines by androgen, an effect which can be blocked by the anti-androgen bicalutamide. To further characterize the effects of R1881 on the SOCS-3 gene, promoter–reporter assay and real-time PCR were performed. We found no influence of androgen on promoter activity or SOCS-3 mRNA levels, thus suggesting a post-transcriptional effect of androgen. Concordant with our previous findings, we show a significant increase of SOCS-3 protein after androgen treatment in cells in which transcription was blocked, but not in those with impaired translation. In order to understand implications of SOCS-3 regulation by androgen, we used SOCS-3-negative LNCaP–IL-6 cells and stably transfected them with a tetracycline-responsive SOCS-3 Tet-On plasmid. We report that androgenic effects on cell proliferation and prostate-specific antigen secretion are significantly diminished following up-regulation of SOCS-3. In conclusion, androgen up-regulates SOCS-3 protein via post-transcriptional effects. SOCS-3 inhibits androgen-stimulated proliferation by influencing cell cycle regulation. Taken together with previous findings showing androgen receptor activation by IL-6, our results imply that androgen and cytokine signalling pathways interact at multiple levels in prostate cancer.

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.

Free access

Kamilla Malinowska, Hannes Neuwirt, Ilaria T Cavarretta, Jasmin Bektic, Hannes Steiner, Hermann Dietrich, Patrizia L Moser, Dietmar Fuchs, Alfred Hobisch, and Zoran Culig

It is hypothesized that ligand-independent activation of the androgen receptor is one of the mechanisms implicated in tumour progression. However, supportive evidence is limited to the effect of HER-2/neu that stimulates prostate cancer progression through activation of the androgen receptor. In the present study, we have asked whether the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is known to stimulate androgen receptor activity and expression of its downstream target genes, may also induce growth of androgen-sensitive cells. We have found that IL-6 differentially regulates proliferation of LAPC-4 and MDA PCa 2b cells. In MDA PCa 2b cells, growth stimulation by IL-6 was reversed by administration of either the non-steroidal anti-androgen bicalutamide or the inhibitor of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway PD98059. Neither cell line was found to express endogenous IL-6. Interestingly, the treatment of those prostate cancer cells did not increase phosphorylation of STAT3. The effect of IL-6 on stimulation of androgen receptor activity in MDA PCa 2b cells was lower than that of androgen, comparable with findings reported by other researchers. However, growth of MDA PCa 2b xenografts in castrated animals treated with IL-6 was similar to that in non-castrated animals. In addition, bicalutamide showed an inhibitory effect on IL-6-regulated growth in vivo. Taken together, data in the present study demonstrate that IL-6 may cause growth of androgen receptor-positive tumours in vitro and in vivo through activation of the androgen receptor.

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.