Androgen receptor-interacting protein HSPBAP1 facilitates growth of prostate cancer cells in androgen-deficient conditions

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Hormonal therapies targeting androgen receptor (AR) are effective in prostate cancer (PCa), but often the cancers progress to fatal castrate-resistant disease. Improved understanding of the cellular events during androgen deprivation would help to identify survival and stress pathways whose inhibition could synergize with androgen deprivation. Toward this aim, we performed an RNAi screen on 2,068 genes, including kinases, phosphatases, epigenetic enzymes and other druggable gene targets. High-content cell spot microarray (CSMA) screen was performed in VCaP cells in the presence and absence of androgens with detection of Ki67 and cleaved ADP-ribose polymerase (cPARP) as assays for cell proliferation and apoptosis. Thirty-nine candidate genes were identified, whose silencing inhibited proliferation or induced apoptosis of VCaP cells exclusively under androgen-deprived conditions. One of the candidates, HSPB (heat shock 27 kDa)-associated protein 1 (HSPBAP1), was confirmed to be highly expressed in tumor samples and its mRNA expression levels increased with the Gleason grade. We found that strong HSPBAP1 immunohistochemical staining (IHC) was associated with shorter disease-specific survival of PCa patients compared with negative to moderate staining. Furthermore, we demonstrate that HSPBAP1 interacts with AR in the nucleus of PCa cells specifically during androgen-deprived conditions, occupies chromatin atPSA/klk3andTMPRSS2/tmprss2enhancers and regulates their expression. In conclusion, we suggest that HSPBAP1 aids in sustaining cell viability by maintaining AR signaling during androgen-deprived conditions.

What's new?

What happens on a cellular level when androgen receptor is blocked in prostate cancer? Cutting off androgen to the tumor alleviates the disease for a while, but eventually androgen receptor levels bounce back and the cancer resurges. How? In this paper, the authors searched for genes that helped the cancer survive despite the lack of androgen. They zeroed in on one gene, HSPBAP1, that correlates with poor survival. Without HSPBAP1, prostate cancer cells could no longer express androgen-receptor target genes. This protein interacts with androgen receptor in the nucleus and appears to maintain AR-signaling in the absence of androgen.

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