Reactivation of androgen receptor-regulated lipid biosynthesis drives the progression of castration-resistant prostate cancer

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Androgen receptor (AR) is a transcriptional activator that, in prostate cells, stimulates gene expression required for various cellular functions, including metabolisms and proliferation. AR signaling is also essential for the development of hormone-dependent prostate cancer (PCa) and its activity can be blocked by androgen-deprivation therapies (ADTs). Although PCa patients initially respond well to ADTs, the cancer inevitably relapses and progresses to lethal castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Although AR activity is generally restored in CRPC despite the castrate level of androgens, it is unclear whether AR signaling is significantly reprogrammed. In this study, we examined the AR cistrome in a PCa cell line-derived CRPC model using integrated bioinformatical analyses. Significantly, we found that the AR cistrome is largely retained in the CRPC stage. In particular, AR-mediated lipid biosynthesis is highly conserved and reactivated during the progression to CRPC, and increased level of lipid synthesis is associated with poor prognosis. The restoration of lipid biosynthetic pathways is partially due to the increased expression of AR splice variants. Blocking lipid/cholesterol synthesis in AR variants-expressing CRPC cell line and xenograft models markedly reduces tumor growth through inhibition of mTOR pathway. Silencing the expression of a fatty acid elongase, ELOVL7, also leads to the regression of CRPC xenograft tumors. These results demonstrate the importance of reactivation of AR-regulated lipid biosynthetic pathways in driving CRPC progression, and suggest that ADTs may be therapeutically enhanced by blocking lipid biosynthetic pathways.

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