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Mol Cancer Res. 2019 May 20. pii: molcanres.1279.2018. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-1279. [Epub ahead of print]

BRD4 regulates metastatic potential of castration-resistant prostate cancer through AHNAK.

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Cancer Center, Boston University School of Medicine.
Lendulet Cancer Biomarker Res. Group, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for Natural Sciences.
Cancer Center, Boston University School of Medicine


The inevitable progression of advanced prostate cancer to castration resistance, and ultimately to lethal metastatic disease, depends on primary or acquired resistance to conventional androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) and accumulated resistance strategies to evade androgen receptor (AR) suppression. In prostate cancer cells, AR adaptations that arise in response to ADT are not singular, but diverse, and include gene amplification, mutation and even complete loss of receptor expression. Collectively, each of these AR adaptations contributes to a complex, heterogeneous, ADT-resistant tumor. Here, we examined prostate cancer cell lines that model common castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) subtypes, each with different AR composition, and focused on novel regulators of tumor progression, the Bromodomain and ExtraTerminal (BET) family of proteins. We found that BRD4 regulates cell migration across all models of CRPC, regardless of aggressiveness and AR status, whereas BRD2 and BRD3 only regulate migration and invasion in less aggressive models that retain AR expression or signaling. BRD4, a co-regulator of gene transcription, controls migration and invasion through transcription of AHNAK, a large scaffolding protein linked to promotion of metastasis in a diverse set of cancers. Furthermore, treatment of CRPC cell lines with low doses of MZ1, a small-molecule, BRD4-selective degrader, inhibits metastatic potential. Overall, these results reveal a novel BRD4-AHNAK pathway that may be targetable to treat metastatic CRPC (mCRPC). Implications: BRD4 functions as the dominant regulator of CRPC cell migration and invasion through direct transcriptional regulation of AHNAK, which together offer a novel targetable pathway to treat metastatic CRPC.

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