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Prostate. 2009 Oct 1;69(14):1481-92. doi: 10.1002/pros.20998.

Nemo-like kinase induces apoptosis and inhibits androgen receptor signaling in prostate cancer cells.

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Department of Urology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.



The mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) regulate cell growth, differentiation, and stress responses, and many critical signaling pathways are subject to cross-regulation by MAPK signaling. Previous studies have yielded evidence of cross-talk between the MAPK pathways and androgen receptor (AR) signaling, which plays a critical role in growth control of both normal prostate and prostate cancer (PCa). Objective of this study was to evaluate the expression of MAPK-like protein nemo-like kinase (NLK) in PCa and its effects on AR-mediated transcription.


Real-time PCR and IHC were used to evaluate levels of NLK in prostatic samples. Effects of over-expression of NLK on apoptosis and proliferation were determined using Western blot and flow cytometry. Effects on AR signaling were evaluated using over-expression and knockdown of NLK in PCa cells in combination with PCR, Western blotting and reporter assays.


Our results show that the expression of NLK is decreased in PCa metastases in comparison to normal prostate epithelium and primary PCa. Our results also show that over-expression of NLK resulted in induction of apoptosis, which was more pronounced in AR-expressing LNCaP versus AR-negative PC-3 cells. Higher levels of NLK decreased levels of AR mRNA and protein as well as inhibited AR-mediated transcription.


NLK expression is altered during PCa progression and it is involved in regulation of AR signaling in these cells. A deeper understanding of the roles of NLK in regulation of AR-mediated transcription and control of PCa progression may point the way to new modes of therapeutic intervention in this disease.

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