The pluripotency factor Nanog is directly upregulated by the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells

Steven Kregel, Russell Z Szmulewitz, Donald J Vander Griend
Prostate 2014, 74 (15): 1530-43

BACKGROUND: The Androgen Receptor (AR) is a nuclear hormone receptor that functions as a critical oncogene in all stages of prostate cancer progression, including progression to castration-resistance following androgen-deprivation therapy. Thus, identifying and targeting critical AR-regulated genes is one potential method to block castration-resistant cancer proliferation. Of particular importance are transcription factors that regulate stem cell pluripotency; many of these genes are emerging as critical oncogenes in numerous tumor cell types. Of these, Nanog has been previously shown to increase the self-renewal and stem-like properties of prostate cancer cells. Thus, we hypothesized that Nanog is a candidate AR target gene that may impart castration-resistance.

METHODS: We modulated AR signaling in LNCaP prostate cancer cells and assayed for Nanog expression. Direct AR binding to the NANOG promoter was tested using AR Chromatin Immunoprecipation (ChIP) and analyses of publically available AR ChIP-sequencing data-sets. Nanog over-expressing cells were analyzed for cell growth and cytotoxicity in response to the AR antagonist enzalutamide and the microtubule stabilizing agent docetaxel.

RESULTS: AR signaling upregulates Nanog mRNA and protein. AR binds directly to the NANOG promoter, and was not identified within 75 kb of the NANOGP8 pseudogene, suggesting the NANOG gene locus was preferentially activated. Nanog overexpression in LNCaP cells increases overall growth, but does not increase resistance to enzalutamide or docetaxel.

CONCLUSIONS: Nanog is a novel oncogenic AR target gene in prostate cancer cells, and stable expression of Nanog increases proliferation and growth of prostate cancer cells, but not resistance to enzalutamide or docetaxel.

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