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Endocr Relat Cancer. 2013 May 20;20(3):293-304. doi: 10.1530/ERC-12-0328. Print 2013 Jun.

Androgen activates β-catenin signaling in bladder cancer cells.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Androgen receptor (AR) signals have been implicated in bladder carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling has also been reported to correlate with bladder cancer progression and poor patients' outcomes. However, cross talk between AR and β-catenin pathways in bladder cancer remains uncharacterized. In radical cystectomy specimens, we immunohistochemically confirmed aberrant expression of β-catenin especially in aggressive tumors. There was a strong association between nuclear expressions of AR and β-catenin in bladder tumors (P=0.0215). Kaplan-Meier and log-rank tests further revealed that reduced membranous β-catenin expression (P=0.0276), nuclear β-catenin expression (P=0.0802), and co-expression of nuclear AR and β-catenin (P=0.0043) correlated with tumor progression after cystectomy. We then assessed the effects of androgen on β-catenin in AR-positive and AR-negative bladder cancer cell lines. A synthetic androgen R1881 increased the expression of an active form of β-catenin and its downstream target c-myc only in AR-positive lines. R1881 also enhanced the activity of β-catenin-mediated transcription, which was abolished by an AR antagonist hydroxyflutamide. Using western blotting and immunofluorescence, R1881 was found to induce nuclear translocation of β-catenin when co-localized with AR. Finally, co-immunoprecipitation revealed androgen-induced associations of AR with β-catenin or T-cell factor (TCF) in bladder cancer cells. Thus, it was likely that androgen was able to activate β-catenin signaling through the AR pathway in bladder cancer cells. Our results also suggest that activation of β-catenin signaling possibly via formation of AR/β-catenin/TCF complex contributes to the progression of bladder cancer, which may enhance the feasibility of androgen deprivation as a potential therapeutic approach.


TCF/LEF; Wnt/β-catenin; androgen receptor; antiandrogen; bladder cancer

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