Recognition of micro-RNA function and their contribution to the biology of disease has given a new insight into disease mechanisms, with these discoveries potentially improving clinical diagnostic and therapeutic options. miR-125b has been identified as an important regulator in various cancers, including prostate cancer, but the mechanism of this regulation remains incompletely understood. In these studies, the effect of castration on miR-125b serum expression was evaluated in mice, simulating androgen deprivation. Furthermore, miR-125b expression was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in LNCaP prostate cancer cells treated with the antiandrogen bicalutamide. Using LNCaP cells, the effect of miR-125b modulation on apoptotic protein and NCOR2, a co-repressor of androgen receptor (AR), was examined by Western blot. A 3′-untranslated region (UTR) luciferase-binding assay was performed to confirm that miR-125b targets NCOR2. We found that surgical castration induced an initial increase in the expression of circulating miR-125b in mice, while sham surgery did not. In addition, AR blockade via bicalutamide was associated with the rapid release of miR-125b into the cell culture medium of prostate cancer cells. A previously studied target of miR-125b, a regulator in the apoptotic pathway, BAK1, could not completely account for the role of miR-125b in prostate cancer. Thus, we looked for additional targets of miR-125b and found that NCOR2, which is a repressor of AR, is a direct target of miR-125b. We found that NCOR2 protein expression was blocked by mimics of miR-125b, and a luciferase-binding assay confirmed that NCOR2 is a direct target of miR-125b. Our data provide novel evidence that miR-125b is an important regulator of the AR with specific ramification for the effectiveness of antiandrogens and other hormonal therapies in prostate cancer.
Key words: androgen receptor complex, apoptosis, castration, circulating micro-RNA, prostate cancer