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Cancer Res. 2007 Jan 15;67(2):528-36.

SOX9 is expressed in normal prostate basal cells and regulates androgen receptor expression in prostate cancer cells.

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Cancer Biology Program, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Urology Research Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


SOX9 is a member of the SOX [Sry-related high-mobility group (HMG) box] family of HMG DNA-binding domain transcription factors and is required for the development and differentiation of multiple cell lineages. This report shows that basal epithelial cells express SOX9 in normal prostate, with no detectable expression in luminal epithelial cells. In contrast, SOX9 is expressed in primary prostate cancers in vivo, at a higher frequency in recurrent prostate cancer and in prostate cancer cell lines (LNCaP, CWR22, PC3, and DU145). SOX9 message and protein levels in prostate cancer cells were increased by treatment with glycogen synthase kinase 3beta inhibitor (SB415286), and SOX9 was reduced when beta-catenin was down-regulated by small interfering RNA (siRNA), indicating that SOX9 expression in prostate cancer is regulated by Wnt/beta-catenin signaling. SOX9 bound specifically to androgen receptor (AR) DNA-binding domain glutathione S-transferase fusion proteins, and this interaction was dependent on a short peptide immediately COOH-terminal to the DNA-binding domain (the C-terminal extension), which is required for interactions between steroid hormone receptors and the architectural HMG proteins. Exogenous SOX9 expressed at high nonphysiologic levels decreased AR expression and activity; however, at lower levels, SOX9 increased AR protein expression. Significantly, down-regulation of SOX9 by siRNA in prostate cancer cells reduced endogenous AR protein levels, and cell growth indicating that SOX9 contributes to AR regulation and decreased cellular proliferation. These results indicate that SOX9 in prostate basal cells supports the development and maintenance of the luminal epithelium and that a subset of prostate cancer cells may escape basal cell requirements through SOX9 expression.

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