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Oncogene. 2013 Jun 13;32(24):2973-83. doi: 10.1038/onc.2012.309. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Plk1 is upregulated in androgen-insensitive prostate cancer cells and its inhibition leads to necroptosis.

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Department of Medicine, Section of Immunology Allergy and Rheumatology, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Castration-resistant prostate cancer (PCa) is refractory to hormone therapy and new strategies for treatment are urgently needed. We found that androgen-insensitive (AI) PCa cells, LNCaP-AI, are reprogrammed to upregulate the mitotic kinase Plk1 (Polo-like kinase 1) and other M-phase cell-cycle proteins, which may underlie AI PCa growth. In androgen-depleted media, LNCaP-AI cells showed exquisite sensitivity to growth inhibition by subnanomolar concentrations of a small molecule inhibitor of Plk1, BI2536, suggesting that these cells are dependent on Plk1 for growth. In contrast, the androgen-responsive parental LNCaP cells showed negligible responses to BI2536 treatment under the same condition. BI2536 treatment of LNCaP-AI cells resulted in an increase in cell death marker PARP-1 (polymerase-1) but did not activate caspase-3, an apoptosis marker, suggesting that the observed cell death was caspase-independent. BI2536-treated LNCaP-AI cells formed multinucleated giant cells that contain clusters of nuclear vesicles indicative of mitotic catastrophe. Live-cell time-lapse imaging revealed that BI2536-treated giant LNCaP-AI cells underwent necroptosis, as evidenced by 'explosive' cell death and partial reversal of cell death by a necroptosis inhibitor. Our studies suggest that LNCaP-AI cells underwent reprogramming in both their cell growth and cell death pathways, rendering them highly sensitive to Plk1 inhibition that induces necroptosis. Harnessing necroptosis through Plk1 inhibition may be explored for therapeutic intervention of castration-resistant PCa.

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