Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common causes of male cancer-related death in Western nations. The cellular response to androgens is mediated via the androgen receptor (AR), a ligand-inducible transcription factor whose dysregulation plays a key role during PCa development and progression following androgen deprivation therapy, the current mainstay systemic treatment for advanced PCa. Thus, a better understanding of AR signaling and new strategies to abrogate AR activity are essential for improved therapeutic intervention. Consequently, a large number of experimental cell culture models have been established to facilitate in vitro investigations into the role of AR signaling in PCa development and progression. These different model systems mimic distinct stages of this heterogeneous disease and exhibit differences with respect to AR expression/status and androgen responsiveness. Technological advances have facilitated the development of in vitro systems that more closely reflect the physiological setting, for example via the use of three-dimensional coculture to study the interaction of prostate epithelial cells with the stroma, endothelium, immune system and tissue matrix environment. This review provides an overview of the most commonly used in vitro cell models currently available to study AR signaling with particular focus on their use in addressing key questions relating to the development and progression of PCa. It is hoped that the continued development of in vitro models will provide more biologically relevant platforms for mechanistic studies, drug discovery and design ensuring a more rapid transfer of knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic.
Natalie Sampson, Hannes Neuwirt, Martin Puhr, Helmut Klocker, and Iris E Eder
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lei Gu, Paraskevi Vogiatzi, Martin Puhr, Ayush Dagvadorj, Jacqueline Lutz, Amy Ryder, Sankar Addya, Paolo Fortina, Carlton Cooper, Benjamin Leiby, Abhijit Dasgupta, Terry Hyslop, Lukas Bubendorf, Kalle Alanen, Tuomas Mirtti, and Marja T Nevalainen
There are no effective therapies for disseminated prostate cancer. Constitutive activation of Stat5 in prostate cancer is associated with cancer lesions of high histological grade. We have shown that Stat5 is activated in 61% of distant metastases of clinical prostate cancer. Active Stat5 increased metastases formation of prostate cancer cells in nude mice by 11-fold in an experimental metastases assay. Active Stat5 promoted migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells, and induced rearrangement of the microtubule network. Active Stat5 expression was associated with decreased cell surface E-cadherin levels, while heterotypic adhesion of prostate cancer cells to endothelial cells was stimulated by active Stat5. Activation of Stat5 and Stat5-induced binding of prostate cancer cells to endothelial cells were decreased by inhibition of Src but not of Jak2. Gene expression profiling indicated that 21% of Stat5-regulated genes in prostate cancer cells were related to metastases, while 7.9% were related to proliferation and 3.9% to apoptosis. The work presented here provides the first evidence of Stat5 involvement in the induction of metastatic behavior of human prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Stat5 may provide a therapeutic target protein for disseminated prostate cancer.
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.