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Oncogene. 2019 Jan;38(3):421-444. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0450-6. Epub 2018 Aug 17.

The miR-96 and RARγ signaling axis governs androgen signaling and prostate cancer progression.

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Department of Cancer Genetics and Genomics, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (RPCCC), Buffalo, NY, 14263, USA.
Center for Personalized Medicine, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY, 14263, USA.
Institute of Bioengineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.
College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Leiden institute of Physics, Leiden University, 2300 RA, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY, 14263, USA.
College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.
Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, 536 Parks Hall, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.


Expression levels of retinoic acid receptor gamma (NR1B3/RARG, encodes RARγ) are commonly reduced in prostate cancer (PCa). Therefore, we sought to establish the cellular and gene regulatory consequences of reduced RARγ expression, and determine RARγ regulatory mechanisms. RARG shRNA approaches in non-malignant (RWPE-1 and HPr1-AR) and malignant (LNCaP) prostate models revealed that reducing RARγ levels, rather than adding exogenous retinoid ligand, had the greatest impact on prostate cell viability and gene expression. ChIP-Seq defined the RARγ cistrome, which was significantly enriched at active enhancers associated with AR binding sites. Reflecting a significant genomic role for RARγ to regulate androgen signaling, RARγ knockdown in HPr1-AR cells significantly regulated the magnitude of the AR transcriptome. RARγ downregulation was explained by increased miR-96 in PCa cell and mouse models, and TCGA PCa cohorts. Biochemical approaches confirmed that miR-96 directly regulated RARγ expression and function. Capture of the miR-96 targetome by biotin-miR-96 identified that RARγ and a number of RARγ interacting co-factors including TACC1 were all targeted by miR-96, and expression of these genes were prominently altered, positively and negatively, in the TCGA-PRAD cohort. Differential gene expression analyses between tumors in the TCGA-PRAD cohort with lower quartile expression levels of RARG and TACC1 and upper quartile miR-96, compared to the reverse, identified a gene network including several RARγ target genes (e.g., SOX15) that significantly associated with worse disease-free survival (hazard ratio 2.23, 95% CI 1.58 to 2.88, p = 0.015). In summary, miR-96 targets a RARγ network to govern AR signaling, PCa progression and disease outcome.

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