Androgen receptor (AR) cistrome in prostate differentiation and cancer progression

Fengtian Wang, Hari K Koul
American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology 2017, 5 (3): 18-24
Despite the progress in development of better AR-targeted therapies for prostate cancer (PCa), there is no curative therapy for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Therapeutic resistance in PCa can be characterized in two broad categories of AR therapy resistance: the first and most prevalent one involves restoration of AR activity despite AR targeted therapy, and the second one involves tumor progression despite blockade of AR activity. As such AR remains the most attractive drug target for CRPC. Despite its oncogenic role, AR signaling also contributes to the maturation and differentiation of prostate luminal cells during development. Recent evidence suggests that AR cistrome is altered in advanced PCa. Alteration in AR may result from AR amplification, alternative splicing, mutations, post-translational modification of AR, and altered expression of AR co-factors. We reasoned that such alterations would result in the transcription of disparate AR target genes and as such may contribute to the emergence of castration-resistance. In the present study, we evaluated the expression of genes associated with canonical or non-canonical AR cistrome in relationship with PCa progression and prostate development by analyzing publicly available datasets. We discovered a transcription switch from canonical AR cistrome target genes to the non-canonical AR cistrome target genes during PCa progression. Using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA), we discovered that canonical AR cistrome target genes are enriched in indolent PCa patients and the loss of canonical AR cistrome is associated with tumor metastasis and poor clinical outcome. Analysis of the datasets involving prostate development, revealed that canonical AR cistrome target genes are significantly enriched in prostate luminal cells and can distinguish luminal cells from basal cells, suggesting a pivotal role for canonical AR cistrome driven genes in prostate development. These data suggest that the expression of canonical AR cistrome related genes play an important role in maintaining the prostate luminal cell identity and might restrict the lineage plasticity observed in lethal PCa. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that dictate AR cistrome may lead to development of new therapeutic strategies aimed at restoring canonical AR cistrome, rewiring the oncogenic AR signaling and overcome resistance to AR targeted therapies.

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