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Cancer Res. 2013 Jun 15;73(12):3725-36. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3468. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Androgen receptor-independent function of FoxA1 in prostate cancer metastasis.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


FoxA1 (FOXA1) is a pioneering transcription factor of the androgen receptor (AR) that is indispensible for the lineage-specific gene expression of the prostate. To date, there have been conflicting reports on the role of FoxA1 in prostate cancer progression and prognosis. With recent discoveries of recurrent FoxA1 mutations in human prostate tumors, comprehensive understanding of FoxA1 function has become very important. Here, through genomic analysis, we reveal that FoxA1 regulates two distinct oncogenic processes via disparate mechanisms. FoxA1 induces cell growth requiring the AR pathway. On the other hand, FoxA1 inhibits cell motility and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) through AR-independent mechanism directly opposing the action of AR signaling. Using orthotopic mouse models, we further show that FoxA1 inhibits prostate tumor metastasis in vivo. Concordant with these contradictory effects on tumor progression, FoxA1 expression is slightly upregulated in localized prostate cancer wherein cell proliferation is the main feature, but is remarkably downregulated when the disease progresses to metastatic stage for which cell motility and EMT are essential. Importantly, recently identified FoxA1 mutants have drastically attenuated ability in suppressing cell motility. Taken together, our findings illustrate an AR-independent function of FoxA1 as a metastasis inhibitor and provide a mechanism by which recurrent FoxA1 mutations contribute to prostate cancer progression.

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