Gonadotropin-releasing hormone induces apoptosis of prostate cancer cells: role of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase, protein kinase B, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathways

Sarah Kraus, Gal Levy, Tamar Hanoch, Zvi Naor, Rony Seger
Cancer Research 2004 August 15, 64 (16): 5736-44
A standard therapy used today for prostate cancer is androgen ablation by gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRH-a). Although most patients respond to androgen ablation as an initial systemic therapy, nearly all cases will develop androgen resistance, the management of which is still a major challenge. Here, we report that GnRH-a can directly induce apoptosis of the androgen-independent prostate cancer-derived DU145 and PC3 cell lines. Using specific inhibitors, we found that the apoptotic effect of GnRH-a is mediated by c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and inhibited by the phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (PKB) pathway. Indeed, in DU145 cells, GnRH-a activates the JNK cascade in a c-Src- and MLK3-dependent manner but does not involve protein kinase C and epidermal growth factor receptor. Concomitantly, GnRH-a reduces the activity of the PI3K-PKB pathway, which results in the dephosphorylation of PKB mainly in the nucleus. The reduction of PKB activity releases PKB-induced inhibition of MLK3 and thus further stimulates JNK activity and accelerates the apoptotic effect of GnRH-a. Interestingly, extracellular signal-regulated kinase is also activated by GnRH-a, and this occurs via a pathway that involves matrix metalloproteinases and epidermal growth factor receptor, but its activation does not affect JNK activation and the GnRH-a-induced apoptosis. Our results support a potential use of GnRH-a for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and suggest that the outcome of this treatment can be amplified by using PI3K-PKB inhibitors.

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