The androgen receptor (AR) plays key roles in the development of prostate tissue and the development and progression of prostate cancer (PC). AR guides cytodifferentiation and homeostasis in benign luminal epithelial cells; however, in PC, AR instead drives the uncontrolled proliferation of these cells. This “AR malignancy shift” (AMS) is a central event in tumorigenesis. Using a ChIP-seq approach in primary human tissues, cell lines, and mouse models, we demonstrate that the AMS occurs in every sample analyzed, suggesting that it is necessary for PC development. Using molecular and genetic techniques, we demonstrate that FOXA1, HOXB13, GATA2, and c-JUN are involved in the regulation of the AMS. AR binding sites (ARBS) are enriched for FOX, HOX, and GATA motifs in PC cells but not for c-JUN motifs in benign cells. We show that the SPOP mutation commonly found in localized PCs can cause the AMS but is not transformative on its own and must be coupled to another mutation to transform cells. We show that the AMS occurs in mouse models of PC as well and that chronic low T, which is associated with increased PC risk and aggressiveness in humans, also causes the AMS in mice. We have discovered a previously-unrecognized, fundamental tenet of PC, one which explains how and why AR signaling is different in cancer and benign cells. Our work has the potential to be used to stratify patients with localized PC for specific treatments. Furthermore, our work suggests that the AMS is a novel target for the treatment and/or prevention of PC.

Molecular oncology. 2019 Sep 14 [Epub ahead of print]

Ben T Copeland, Juan Du, Sumanta K Pal, Jeremy O Jones

Deparment of Medical Oncology., Integrative Genomics, City of Hope, Duarte, CA.