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BMC Cancer. 2019 Oct 21;19(1):972. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-6185-0.

TMPRSS2-ERG fusions confer efficacy of enzalutamide in an in vivo bone tumor growth model.

Author information

1
Department of Urology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 9245 Scott Hall, 540 E. Canfield Avenue, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA.
2
Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA.
3
Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA.
4
Department of Urology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 9245 Scott Hall, 540 E. Canfield Avenue, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA. schinni@med.wayne.edu.
5
Department of Pathology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA. schinni@med.wayne.edu.
6
Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 48201, USA. schinni@med.wayne.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) is an advanced disease resistant to systemic traditional medical or surgical castration, and resistance is primarily attributed to reactivation of AR through multiple mechanisms. TMPRSS2-ERG fusions have been shown to regulate AR signaling, interfere with pro-differentiation functions, and mediate oncogenic signaling. We have recently shown that ERG regulates intra-tumoral androgen synthesis and thereby facilitates AR function in prostate cancer cells. We hypothesize that enzalutamide treatment will be more effective in cells/tumors with TMPRSS2-ERG translocations because these tumors have increased AR signaling.

METHODS:

ERG knockdown was performed with VCaP cells using lentiviral infections to generate VCaP ERGshRNA cells and control VCaP scr cells with scrambled shRNA. Cell-growth analysis was performed to determine the effect of enzalutamide. Reverse transcription, quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) was used to determine the expression of AR responsive genes. Luciferase tagged VCaP scr and shRNA infected cells were used in an intra-tibial animal model for bone tumor growth analysis and enzalutamide treatment used to inhibit AR signaling in bone tumors. Western blotting analyzed VCaP bone tumor samples for ERG, AR, AKR1C3 and HSD3B1 and HSD3B2 expression.

RESULTS:

Enzalutamide inhibited the growth of VCaP scr cells more effectively than shERG cells. Analysis of AR responsive genes shows that Enzalutamide treatment at 5 micromolar concentration inhibited by 85-90% in VCaP Scr cells whereas these genes were inhibited to a lesser extent in VCaP shERG cells. Enzalutamide treatment resulted in severe growth inhibition in VCaP scr shRNA cells compared to VCaP shERG cells. In bone tumor growth experiment, VCaP ERG shRNA cells grew at slower than VCaP scr shRNA cells. Androgen biosynthetic enzyme expression is lower VCaP shERG bone tumors compared to VCaP scr shRNA bone tumors and enzalutamide inhibited the enzyme expression in both types of tumors.

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that ERG transcription factor regulates androgen biosynthetic enzyme expression that enzalutamide treatment is more effective against VCaP bone tumors with an intact ERG expression, and that knocking down ERG in VCaP cells leads to a lesser response to enzalutamide therapy. Thus, ERG expression status in tumors could help stratify patients for enzalutamide therapy.

KEYWORDS:

AKR1C3; Androgen biosynthetic enzymes; Androgen receptor; Bone tumors; Castrate resistant prostate cancer; Enzalutamide; HSD3B1 and HSD3B2; TMPRSS2-ERG

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