Androgen receptor splice variants (AR-V) are implicated in resistance of prostate cancer to androgen-directed therapies. When expressed alone in cells, some AR-Vs (e.g., AR-V7) localize primarily to the nucleus, whereas others (e.g., AR-V1, AR-V4, and AR-V6) localize mainly to the cytoplasm. Significantly, the latter are often coexpressed with the nucleus-predominant AR-Vs and the full-length AR (AR-FL). An important question to be addressed is whether the cytoplasmic-localized AR-Vs play a role in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) through interaction with the nucleus-predominant AR-Vs and AR-FL. Here, it is demonstrated that AR-V1, -V4, and -V6 can dimerize with both AR-V7 and AR-FL. Consequently, AR-V7 and androgen-bound AR-FL induced nuclear localization of AR-V1, -V4, and -V6, and these variants, in turn, mitigated the ability of the antiandrogen enzalutamide to inhibit androgen-induced AR-FL nuclear localization. Interestingly, the impact of nuclear localization of AR-V4 and -V6 on AR transactivation differs from that of AR-V1. Nuclear localization leads to an increased ability of AR-V4 and -V6 to transactivate both canonical AR targets and AR-V–specific targets and to confer castration-resistant cell growth. However, although AR-V1, which lacks inherent transcriptional activity, appears to activate AR-FL in an androgen-independent manner, it significantly antagonizes AR-V7 transactivation. Together, these data demonstrate that the complex interactions among different AR-Vs and AR-FL play a significant role in castration-resistant disease.
Implications: This study suggests important consequences for clinical castration resistance due to simultaneous expression of AR-FL and AR-Vs in patient tumors and suggests that dissecting these interactions should help develop effective strategies to disrupt AR-V signaling. Mol Cancer Res; 15(1); 59–68. ©2016 AACR.
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Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Research Online (http://mcr.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received July 15, 2016.
- Revision received September 6, 2016.
- Accepted September 13, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.