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Prostate. 2014 Aug;74(11):1118-31. doi: 10.1002/pros.22828. Epub 2014 Jun 9.

Androgen receptor (AR) suppresses normal human prostate epithelial cell proliferation via AR/β-catenin/TCF-4 complex inhibition of c-MYC transcription.

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Chemical Therapeutics Program and Prostate Cancer Program, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of Urology, The Brady Urological Institute, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.



Physiologic testosterone continuously stimulates prostate stromal cell secretion of paracrine growth factors (PGFs), which if unopposed would induce hyperplastic overgrowth of normal prostate epithelial cells (PrECs).


Lentiviral shRNA stable knock down of c-MYC, β-catenin, or TCF-4 completely inhibits normal (i.e., non-transformed) human PrECs growth. c-MYC enhancer driven reporter expression and growth is inhibited by two chemically distinct molecules, which prevent β-catenin signaling either by blocking TCF-4 binding (i.e., toxoflavin) or by stimulating degradation (i.e., AVX939). Recombinant DKK1 protein at a dose, which inhibits activation of canonical Wnt signaling does not inhibit PrEC growth. Nuclear β-catenin translocation and PrEC growth is prevented by both lack of PGFs or Akt inhibitor-I. Growth inhibition induced by lack of PGFs, toxoflavin, or Akt inhibitor-I is overcome by constitutive c-MYC transcription.


In the presence of continuous PGF signaling, PrEC hyperplasia is prevented by androgen binding to AR suppressing c-MYC transcription, resulting in G0 arrest/terminal differentiation independent of Rb, p21, p27, FoxP3, or down regulation of growth factors receptors and instead involves androgen-induced formation of AR/β-catenin/TCF-4 complexes, which suppress c-MYC transcription. Such suppression does not occur when AR is mutated in its zinc-finger binding domain.


Proliferation of non-transformed human PrECs is dependent upon c-MYC transcription via formation/binding of β-catenin/TCF-4 complexes at both 5' and 3' c-MYC enhancers stimulated by Wnt-independent, PGF induced Akt signaling. In the presence of continuous PGF signaling, PrEC hyperplasia is prevented by androgen-induced formation of AR/β-catenin/TCF-4 complexes, which retains binding to 3' c-MYC enhancer, but now suppresses c-MYC transcription.


TCF-4; androgen receptor; c-MYC, β-catenin; human prostate epithelial cells

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