TGF-beta signaling and androgen receptor status determine apoptotic cross-talk in human prostate cancer cells

Meng-Lei Zhu, James V Partin, Elizabeth M Bruckheimer, Stephen E Strup, Natasha Kyprianou
Prostate 2008 February 15, 68 (3): 287-95

BACKGROUND: A signaling interaction between transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and androgens promotes apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells LNCaP-TbetaRII (androgen-sensitive and TGF-beta responsive). This study investigated the contribution of androgen receptor (AR) in the combined effect of TGF-beta and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), on regulation of apoptosis and AR- and TGF-beta mediated transcriptional activity in human prostate cancer cells.

METHODS: Transcriptional activation in response to TGF-beta (5 ng/ml) and DHT (1 nM) was evaluated using transient transfections and luciferase assays in human prostate cancer cells, LNCaP-TbetaRII and PC-3, overexpressing the wild type AR. The apoptotic response to DHT/TGFbeta treatment was correlated with AR cellular distribution and the AR interaction with TGF-beta intracellular effector Smad4.

RESULTS: The results revealed that TGF-beta signaling induced AR-mediated transcriptional activation in two androgen-responsive promoters [probasin and prostate specific antigen (PSA)]. TGF-beta1 induced transcriptional activity enhanced by DHT in both cell lines (LNCaP-TbetaRII and PC-3-AR) via AR-Smad4 interaction. This interaction however does not exclusively drive TGF-beta mediated apoptosis as DHT failed to enhance such an effect in PC-3 AR (wt) cells.

CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that the AR status determines the sensitivity of prostate cancer cells to the apoptotic effects of TGF-beta1, thus providing a new insight into the mechanism via which TGF-beta cross-sections the AR axis toward the functional convergence of the two pathways in the development of androgen-independent prostate cancer. This study is potentially significant in defining the contribution of AR status to the emergence of androgen-independent prostate tumors.

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