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author:("pavone, Nora")
1.  Targeting Fibroblast Growth Factor Pathways in Prostate Cancer 
Advanced prostate cancer carries a poor prognosis and novel therapies are needed. Research has focused on identifying mechanisms that promote angiogenesis and cellular proliferation during prostate cancer progression from the primary tumor to bone—the principal site of prostate cancer metastases. One candidate pathway is the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) axis. Aberrant expression of FGF ligands and FGF receptors leads to constitutive activation of multiple downstream pathways involved in prostate cancer progression, including mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and phospholipase Cγ. The involvement of FGF pathways in multiple mechanisms relevant to prostate tumorigenesis s provides a rationale for the therapeutic blockade of this pathway, and two small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors—dovitinib and nintedanib—are currently in phase 2 clinical development for advanced prostate cancer. Preliminary results from these trials suggest that FGF pathway inhibition represents a promising new strategy to treat castrate-resistant disease.
PMCID: PMC3926427  PMID: 24052019
fibroblast growth factor; metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; dovitinib; nintedanib
2.  Heme-oxygenase-1 implications in cell morphology and the adhesive behavior of prostate cancer cells 
Oncotarget  2014;5(12):4087-4102.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Although previous studies in PCa have focused on cell adherens junctions (AJs), key players in metastasis, they have left the molecular mechanisms unexplored. Inflammation and the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) are critical in the regulation of cell adhesion and the integrity of the epithelium. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) counteracts oxidative and inflammatory damage. Here, we investigated whether HO-1 is implicated in the adhesive and morphological properties of tumor cells. Genes differentially regulated by HO-1 were enriched for cell motility and adhesion biological processes. HO-1 induction, increased E-cadherin and β-catenin levels. Immunofluorescence analyses showed a striking remodeling of E-cadherin/β-catenin based AJs under HO-1 modulation. Interestingly, the enhanced levels of E-cadherin and β-catenin coincided with a markedly change in cell morphology. To further our analysis we sought to identify HO-1 binding proteins that might participate in the regulation of cell morphology. A proteomics approach identified Muskelin, as a novel HO-1 partner, strongly implicated in cell morphology regulation. These results define a novel role for HO-1 in modulating the architecture of cell-cell interactions, favoring a less aggressive phenotype and further supporting its anti-tumoral function in PCa.
PMCID: PMC4147308  PMID: 24961479
Prostate Cancer; Heme-oxygenase-1; Muskelin; E-cadherin; B-catenin; Adherens Junctions
3.  Modeling A Lethal Prostate Cancer Variant with Small Cell Carcinoma Features 
Small-cell prostate carcinoma (SCPC) morphology predicts for a distinct clinical behavior, resistance to androgen ablation, and frequent but short responses to chemotherapy. We sought to develop model systems that reflect human SCPC and can improve our understanding of its biology.
Experimental Design
We developed a set of CRPC xenografts and examined their fidelity to their human tumors of origin. We compared the expression and genomic profiles of SCPC and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) xenografts to those of typical prostate adenocarcinoma xenografts. Results were validated immunohistochemically in a panel of 60 human tumors.
The reported SCPC and LCNEC xenografts retain high fidelity to their human tumors of origin and are characterized by a marked upregulation of UBE2C and other mitotic genes in the absence of AR, retinoblastoma (RB1) and cyclin D1 (CCND1) expression. We confirmed these findings in a panel of CRPC patients' samples. In addition, array comparative genomic hybridization of the xenografts showed that the SCPC/LCNEC tumors display more copy number variations than the adenocarcinoma counterparts. Amplification of the UBE2C locus and microdeletions of RB1 were present in a subset, but none displayed AR nor CCND1 deletions. The AR, RB1, and CCND1 promoters showed no CpG methylation in the SCPC xenografts.
Modeling human prostate carcinoma with xenografts allows in-depth and detailed studies of its underlying biology. The detailed clinical annotation of the donor tumors enables associations of anticipated relevance to be made. Futures studies in the xenografts will address the functional significance of the findings.
PMCID: PMC3923417  PMID: 22156612
castration resistance prostate cancer; small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma; retinoblastoma; UBE2C; cyclin D1
4.  Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer Xenografts with Large-cell and Small-cell Features Derived from a Single Patient’s Tumor: Morphological, Immunohistochemical and Gene Expression Profiles 
The Prostate  2010;71(8):10.1002/pros.21301.
Small-cell carcinoma (SCC) of the prostate is an AR-negative variant of prostate cancer found at progression in 10–20% of castrate-resistant disease. Its finding predicts a distinct clinical course and a poor prognosis. Large-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) is a much rarer variant that behaves similarly to SCC. The biological mechanisms that drive these disease variants are poorly understood.
Eight tumor fragments from the salvage pelvic exenteration specimen of a patient with castrate-resistant prostate carcinoma were subcutaneously implanted into 6- to 8-week-old male CB17 SCID mice. Serial tissue sections and tissue microarrays of the resulting MDA PCa 144 xenograft lines were used for histopathologic and immunohistochemical characterization of the xenografts and their tissue of origin. RNA from two representative xenograft sublines was used for gene-expression profiling.
All eight fragments formed tumors: four of the MDA PCa 144 xenograft sublines had morphologic characteristics of SCC and four, of LCNEC. All retained high fidelity to their parent tumor tissue, which remained stable through serial passages. Morphological transitions in the specimen of origin suggested LCNEC represents an intermediate step between adenocarcinoma and SCC. Over 2,500 genes were differentially expressed between the SCC (MDA PCa 144-13) and the LCNEC (MDA PCa 144-4) sublines and enriched in “Nervous System Development” Gene Ontology subtree.
The eight xenograft models described represent the spectrum of neuroendocrine carcinomas in prostate cancer and will be valuable preclinical tools to study the pathogenesis of and therapy targets for this increasingly recognized subset of lethal prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3883511  PMID: 21456067
castrate-resistant; cancer; androgen-independent; neural development; array
5.  Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) Expression in Prostate Cancer Cells Modulates the Oxidative Response in Bone Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80315.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is a leading cause of death among males. It is currently estimated that inflammatory responses are linked to 15-20% of all deaths from cancer worldwide. PCa is dominated by complications arising from metastasis to the bone where the tumor cells interact with the bone microenvironment impairing the balance between bone formation and degradation. However, the molecular nature of this interaction is not completely understood. Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) counteracts oxidative damage and inflammation. Previous studies from our laboratory showed that HO-1 is implicated in PCa, demonstrating that endogenous HO-1 inhibits bone derived-prostate cancer cells proliferation, invasion and migration and decreases tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo. The aim of this work was to analyze the impact of HO-1 modulated PCa cells on osteoblasts proliferation in vitro and on bone remodeling in vivo. Using a co-culture system of PC3 cells with primary mice osteoblasts (PMOs), we demonstrated that HO-1 pharmacological induction (hemin treatment) abrogated the diminution of PMOs proliferation induced by PCa cells and decreased the expression of osteoclast-modulating factors in osteoblasts. No changes were detected in the expression of genes involved in osteoblasts differentiation. However, co-culture of hemin pre-treated PC3 cells (PC3 Hem) with PMOs provoked an oxidative status and activated FoxO signaling in osteoblasts. The percentage of active osteoblasts positive for HO-1 increased in calvarias explants co-cultured with PC3 Hem cells. Nuclear HO-1 expression was detected in tumors generated by in vivo bone injection of HO-1 stable transfected PC3 (PC3HO-1) cells in the femur of SCID mice. These results suggest that HO-1 has the potential to modify the bone microenvironment impacting on PCa bone metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3817116  PMID: 24224047
6.  The Current State of Preclinical Prostate Cancer Animal Models 
The Prostate  2008;68(6):629-639.
Prostate cancer continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in men around the world. The field of prostate cancer research continues to be hindered by the lack of relevant preclinical models to study tumorigenesis and to further development of effective prevention and therapeutic strategies. The Prostate Cancer Foundation held a Prostate Cancer Models Working Group (PCMWG) Summit on August 6th and 7th, 2007 to address these issues. The PCMWG reviewed the state of prostate cancer preclinical models and identified the current limitations of cell line, xenograft and genetically engineered mouse models that have hampered the transition of scientific findings from these models to human clinical trials. In addition the PCMWG identified administrative issues that inhibit the exchange of models and impede greater interactions between academic centers and these centers with industry. The PCMWG identified potential solutions for discovery bottlenecks that include: (1) insufficient number of models with insufficient molecular and biologic diversity to reflect human cancer, (2) a lack of understanding of the molecular events that define tumorigenesis, (3) a lack of tools for studying tumor–host interactions, (4) difficulty in accessing model systems across institutions, and (5) addressing why preclinical studies appear not to be predictive of human clinical trials. It should be possible to apply the knowledge gained molecular and epigenetic studies to develop new cell lines and models that mimic progressive and fatal prostate cancer and ultimately improve interventions.
PMCID: PMC3681409  PMID: 18213636
mouse; genetically engineered; cell lines
7.  Glutathione-S-Transferase (GST) polymorphisms are associated with relapse after radical prostatectomy 
Organ confined prostate cancer (PCa) can be cured by radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP); however, some tumors will still recur. Current tools fail to identify patients at risk of recurrence. Glutathione-S-Transferases (GSTs) are involved in the metabolism of carcinogens, hormones and drugs. Thus, genetic polymorphisms that modify the GSTs activities may modify the risk of PCa recurrence.
We retrospectively recruited Argentine PCa patients treated with RRP to study the association between GSTs polymorphisms and PCa biochemical relapse after RRP. We genotyped germline DNA in 105 patients for: GSTP1 c.313 A>G (p.105 Ile>Val, rs1695) by PCR-RFLP; and GSTT1 null and GSTM1 null polymorphisms by multiplex-PCR. Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate these associations.
Patients with GSTP1 c.313 GG genotype showed shorter biochemical relapse-free survival (BRFS) (p=0.003) and higher risk for recurrence in unadjusted (Hazard Ratio (HR)=3.16, 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI)=1.41–7.06, p=0.005) and multivariate models (HR=3.01, 95% CI=1.13–8.02, p=0.028). We did not find significant associations for GSTT1 and GSTM1 genotypes. In addition, we found shorter BRFS (p=0.010) and increased risk for recurrence for patients having 2 or more risk alleles when we combined the genotypes of the three GSTs in multivariate models (HR=3.06, 95% CI=1.20–7.80, p=0.019).
Our results give support to the implementation of GSTs genotyping for personalized therapies as a novel alternative for PCa management for patients who undergo RRP. This is the first study that examined GST polymorphisms in PCa progression in Argentine men. Replication of our findings in larger cohort is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3626169  PMID: 23146971
prostate cancer; biochemical relapse; GST; glutathione-S-transferase; polymorphism
8.  Effect of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) receptor I kinase inhibitor on prostate cancer bone growth 
Bone  2011;50(3):695-703.
Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of prostate cancer (PCa) bone metastasis. In this study, we tested the antitumor efficacy of a selective TGF-β receptor I kinase inhibitor, LY2109761, in preclinical models. The effect of LY2109761 on the growth of MDA PCa 2b and PC-3 human PCa cells and primary mouse osteoblasts (PMOs) was assessed in vitro by measuring radiolabeled thymidine incorporation into DNA. In vivo, the right femurs of male SCID mice were injected with PCa cells. We monitored the tumor burden in control- and LY2109761-treated mice with MRI analysis and the PCa-induced bone response with x-ray and micro-CT analyses. Histologic changes in bone were studied by performing bone histomorphometric evaluations. PCa cells and PMOs expressed TGF-β receptor I. TGF-β1 induced pathway activation (as assessed by induced expression of p-Smad2) and inhibited cell growth in PC-3 cells and PMOs but not in MDA PCa 2b cells. LY2109761 had no effect on PCa cells but induced PMO proliferation in vitro. As expected, LY2109761 reversed the TGF-β1–induced pathway activation and growth inhibition in PC-3 cells and PMOs. In vivo, LY2109761 treatment for 6 weeks resulted in increased volume in normal bone and increased osteoblast and osteoclast parameters. In addition, LY2109761 treatment significantly inhibited the growth of MDA PCa 2b and PC-3 in the bone of SCID mice (p < 0.05); moreover, it resulted in significantly less bone loss and change in osteoclast-associated parameters in the PC-3 tumor–bearing bones than in the untreated mice. In summary, we report for the first time that targeting TGF-β receptors with LY2109761 can control PCa bone growth while increasing the mass of normal bone. This increased bone mass in nontumorous bone may be a desirable side effect of LY2109761 treatment for men with osteopenia or osteoporosis secondary to androgen-ablation therapy, reinforcing the benefit of effectively controlling PCa growth in bone. Thus, targeting TGF-β receptor I is a valuable intervention in men with advanced PCa.
PMCID: PMC3278589  PMID: 22173053
Prostate cancer; Bone metastases; TGF-β; TGF-β receptor type I kinase inhibitor
9.  Constitutive activation of p38 MAPK in tumor cells contributes to osteolytic bone lesions in multiple myeloma 
Bone destruction is a hallmark of multiple myeloma and affects more than 80% of patients. However, current therapy is unable to completely cure and/or prevent bone lesions. Although it is accepted that myeloma cells mediate bone destruction by inhibition of osteoblasts and activation of osteoclasts, the underlying mechanism is still poorly understood. This study demonstrates that constitutive activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in myeloma cells is responsible for myeloma-induced osteolysis. Our results show that p38 is constitutively activated in most myeloma cell lines and primary myeloma cells from patients. Myeloma cells with high/detectable p38 activity, but not those with low/undetectable p38 activity, injected into SCID or SCID-hu mice caused bone destruction. Inhibition or knockdown of p38 in human myeloma reduced or prevented myeloma-induced osteolytic bone lesions without affecting tumor growth, survival, or homing to bone. Mechanistic studies showed that myeloma cell p38 activity inhibited osteoblastogenesis and bone formation and activated osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption in myeloma-bearing SCID mice. This study elucidates a novel molecular mechanism—sactivation of p38 signaling in myeloma cells—by which myeloma cells induce osteolytic bone lesions and indicates that targeting myeloma cell p38 may be a viable approach to treating or preventing myeloma bone disease.
PMCID: PMC3381862  PMID: 22425892
Myeloma; p38 MAPK; Osteolytic bone lesions; Osteoblastogenesis; Osteoclastogenesis
10.  Activation of Beta-Catenin Signaling in Androgen Receptor–Negative Prostate Cancer Cells 
Clinical Cancer Research  2012;18(3):726-736.
To study Wnt/beta-catenin in castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and understand its function independently of the beta-catenin–androgen receptor (AR) interaction.
Experimental Design
We performed beta-catenin immunocytochemical analysis, evaluated TOP-flash reporter activity (a reporter of beta-catenin–mediated transcription), and sequenced the beta-catenin gene in MDA PCa 118a, MDA PCa 118b, MDA PCa 2b, and PC-3 prostate cancer (PCa) cells. We knocked down beta-catenin in AR-negative MDA PCa 118b cells and performed comparative gene-array analysis. We also immunohistochemically analyzed beta-catenin and AR in 27 bone metastases of human CRPCs.
Beta-catenin nuclear accumulation and TOP-flash reporter activity were high in MDA PCa 118b but not in MDA PCa 2b or PC-3 cells. MDA PCa 118a and 118b cells carry a mutated beta-catenin at codon 32 (D32G). Ten genes were expressed differently (false discovery rate, 0.05) in MDA PCa 118b cells with downregulated beta-catenin. One such gene, hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2), synthesizes hyaluronan, a core component of the extracellular matrix. We confirmed HAS2 upregulation in PC-3 cells transfected with D32G-mutant beta-catenin. Finally, we found nuclear localization of beta-catenin in 10 of 27 human tissue specimens; this localization was inversely associated with AR expression (P = 0.056, Fisher’s exact test), suggesting that reduced AR expression enables Wnt/beta-catenin signaling.
We identified a previously unknown downstream target of beta-catenin, HAS2, in PCa, and found that high beta-catenin nuclear localization and low or no AR expression may define a subpopulation of men with bone-metastatic PCa. These findings may guide physicians in managing these patients.
PMCID: PMC3271798  PMID: 22298898
beta-catenin; prostate cancer; androgen receptor; hyaluronan synthase
11.  Unveiling the Association of STAT3 and HO-1 in Prostate Cancer: Role beyond Heme Degradation1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2012;14(11):1043-1056.
Activation of the androgen receptor (AR) is a key step in the development of prostate cancer (PCa). Several mechanisms have been identified in AR activation, among them signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling. Disruption of STAT3 activity has been associated to cancer progression. Recent studies suggest that heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) may play a key role in PCa that may be independent of its catalytic function. We sought to explore whether HO-1 operates on AR transcriptional activity through the STAT3 axis. Our results display that HO-1 induction in PCa cells represses AR activation by decreasing the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) promoter activity and mRNA levels. Strikingly, this is the first report to show by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis that HO-1 associates to gene promoters, revealing a novel function for HO-1 in the nucleus. Furthermore, HO-1 and STAT3 directly interact as determined by co-immunoprecipitation studies. Forced expression of HO-1 increases STAT3 cytoplasmic retention. When PCa cells were transfected with a constitutively active STAT3 mutant, PSA and STAT3 downstream target genes were abrogated under hemin treatment. Additionally, a significant decrease in pSTAT3 protein levels was detected in the nuclear fraction of these cells. Confocal microscopy images exhibit a decreased rate of AR/STAT3 nuclear co-localization under hemin treatment. In vivo studies confirmed that STAT3 nuclear delimitation was significantly decreased in PC3 tumors overexpressing HO-1 grown as xenografts in nude mice. These results provide a novel function for HO-1 down-modulating AR transcriptional activity in PCa, interfering with STAT3 signaling, evidencing its role beyond heme degradation.
PMCID: PMC3514752  PMID: 23226098
12.  Personalized Oncology Through Integrative High-Throughput Sequencing: A Pilot Study 
Science translational medicine  2011;3(111):111ra121.
Individual cancers harbor a set of genetic aberrations that can be informative for identifying rational therapies currently available or in clinical trials. We implemented a pilot study to explore the practical challenges of applying high-throughput sequencing in clinical oncology. We enrolled patients with advanced or refractory cancer who were eligible for clinical trials. For each patient, we performed whole-genome sequencing of the tumor, targeted whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal DNA, and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) of the tumor to identify potentially informative mutations in a clinically relevant time frame of 3 to 4 weeks. With this approach, we detected several classes of cancer mutations including structural rearrangements, copy number alterations, point mutations, and gene expression alterations. A multidisciplinary Sequencing Tumor Board (STB) deliberated on the clinical interpretation of the sequencing results obtained. We tested our sequencing strategy on human prostate cancer xenografts. Next, we enrolled two patients into the clinical protocol and were able to review the results at our STB within 24 days of biopsy. The first patient had metastatic colorectal cancer in which we identified somatic point mutations in NRAS, TP53, AURKA, FAS, and MYH11, plus amplification and overexpression of cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8). The second patient had malignant melanoma, in which we identified a somatic point mutation in HRAS and a structural rearrangement affecting CDKN2C. The STB identified the CDK8 amplification and Ras mutation as providing a rationale for clinical trials with CDK inhibitors or MEK (mitogenactivated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) and PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) inhibitors, respectively. Integrative high-throughput sequencing of patients with advanced cancer generates a comprehensive, individual mutational landscape to facilitate biomarker-driven clinical trials in oncology.
PMCID: PMC3476478  PMID: 22133722
13.  Arachidonic acid metabolism in human prostate cancer 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;41(4):1495-1503.
The arachidonic acid pathway is important in the development and progression of numerous malignant diseases, including prostate cancer. To more fully evaluate the role of individual cyclooxygenases (COXs), lipoxygenases (LOXs) and their metabolites in prostate cancer, we measured mRNA and protein levels of COXs and LOXs and their arachidonate metabolites in androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-independent (PC-3 and DU145) prostate cancer cell lines, bone metastasis-derived MDA PCa 2a and MDA PCa 2b cell lines and their corresponding xenograft models, as well as core biopsy specimens of primary prostate cancer and nonneoplastic prostate tissue taken ex vivo after prostatectomy. Relatively high levels of COX-2 mRNA and its product PGE2 were observed only in PC-3 cells and their xenografts. By contrast, levels of the exogenous 12-LOX product 12-HETE were consistently higher in MDA PCa 2b and PC-3 cells and their corresponding xenograft tissues than were those in LNCaP cells. More strikingly, the mean endogenous level of 12-HETE was significantly higher in the primary prostate cancers than in the nonneoplastic prostate tissue (0.094 vs. 0.010 ng/mg protein, respectively; p=0.019). Our results suggest that LOX metabolites such as 12-HETE are critical in prostate cancer progression and that the LOX pathway may be a target for treating and preventing prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3982713  PMID: 22895552
arachidonic acid; cyclooxygenase; lipoxygenase; prostate cancer; xenograft; eicosanoid
14.  Mechanistic Rationale for Inhibition of Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase in ETS Gene Fusion-Positive Prostate Cancer 
Cancer cell  2011;19(5):664-678.
Recurrent fusions of ETS genes are considered driving mutations in a diverse array of cancers, including Ewing’s sarcoma, acute myeloid leukemia, and prostate cancer. We investigate the mechanisms by which ETS fusions mediate their effects, and find that the product of the predominant ETS gene fusion, TMPRSS2:ERG, interacts in a DNA-independent manner with the enzyme poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) and the catalytic subunit of DNA protein kinase (DNA-PKcs). ETS gene-mediated transcription and cell invasion require PARP1 and DNA-PKcs expression and activity. Importantly, pharmacological inhibition of PARP1 inhibits ETS positive, but not ETS negative, prostate cancer xenograft growth. Finally, overexpression of the TMPRSS2:ERG fusion induces DNA damage, which is potentiated by PARP1 inhibition in a manner similar to that of BRCA1/2-deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3113473  PMID: 21575865
Prostate; Rearrangement; Gene Fusion; TMPRSS2; ERG; DNA-PKcs; PARP1
15.  Inhibition of prostate cancer osteoblastic progression with VEGF121/rGel, a single agent targeting osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and tumor neovasculature 
A hallmark of prostate cancer (PCa) progression is the development of osteoblastic bone metastases, which respond poorly to available therapies. We previously reported that VEGF121/rGel targets osteoclast precursors and tumor neovasculature. Here we tested the hypothesis that targeting non-tumor cells expressing these receptors can inhibit tumor progression in a clinically relevant model of osteoblastic PCa.
Experimental Design
Cells from MDA PCa 118b, a PCa xenograft obtained from a bone metastasis in a patient with castrate-resistant PCa, were injected into the femurs of mice. Osteoblastic progression was monitored following systemic administration of VEGF121/rGel.
VEGF121/rGel was cytotoxic in vitro to osteoblast precursor cells. This cytotoxicity was specific as VEGF121/rGel internalization into osteoblasts was VEGF121 receptor driven. Furthermore, VEGF121/rGel significantly inhibited PCa-induced bone formation in a mouse calvaria culture assay. In vivo, VEGF121/rGel significantly inhibited the osteoblastic progression of PCa cells in the femurs of nude mice. Microcomputed tomography analysis revealed that VEGF121/rGel restored the bone volume fraction of tumor-bearing femurs to values similar to those of the contralateral (non–tumor bearing) femurs. VEGF121/rGel significantly reduced the number of tumor-associated osteoclasts but did not change the numbers of peritumoral osteoblasts. Importantly, VEGF121/rGel-treated mice had significantly less tumor burden than control mice. Our results thus indicate that VEGF121/rGel inhibits osteoblastic tumor progression by targeting angiogenesis, osteoclastogenesis, and bone formation.
Targeting VEGFR-1 – or VEGFR-2–expressing cells is effective in controlling the osteoblastic progression of PCa in bone. These findings provide the basis for an effective multitargeted approach for metastatic PCa.
PMCID: PMC3078947  PMID: 21343372
metastasis; bone; prostate; osteoblast; osteoclast
16.  Mitosis Phase Enrichment with Identification of Mitotic Centromere-Associated Kinesin As a Therapeutic Target in Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31259.
The recently described transcriptomic switch to a mitosis program in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) suggests that mitotic proteins may be rationally targeted at this lethal stage of the disease. In this study, we showed upregulation of the mitosis-phase at the protein level in our cohort of 51 clinical CRPC cases and found centrosomal aberrations to also occur preferentially in CRPC compared with untreated, high Gleason–grade hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (P<0.0001). Expression profiling of chemotherapy-resistant CRPC samples (n = 25) was performed, and the results were compared with data from primary chemotherapy-naïve CRPC (n = 10) and hormone-sensitive prostate cancer cases (n = 108). Our results showed enrichment of mitosis-phase genes and pathways, with progression to both castration-resistant and chemotherapy-resistant disease. The mitotic centromere-associated kinesin (MCAK) was identified as a novel mitosis-phase target in prostate cancer that was overexpressed in multiple CRPC gene-expression datasets. We found concordant gene expression of MCAK between our parent and murine CRPC xenograft pairs and increased MCAK protein expression with clinical progression of prostate cancer to a castration-resistant disease stage. Knockdown of MCAK arrested the growth of prostate cancer cells suggesting its utility as a potential therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3281954  PMID: 22363599
17.  Androgen Regulation of 5α-Reductase Isoenzymes in Prostate Cancer: Implications for Prostate Cancer Prevention 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28840.
The enzyme 5α-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), performs key functions in the androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathway. The three isoenzymes of 5α-reductase identified to date are encoded by different genes: SRD5A1, SRD5A2, and SRD5A3. In this study, we investigated mechanisms underlying androgen regulation of 5α-reductase isoenzyme expression in human prostate cells. We found that androgen regulates the mRNA level of 5α-reductase isoenzymes in a cell type–specific manner, that such regulation occurs at the transcriptional level, and that AR is necessary for this regulation. In addition, our results suggest that AR is recruited to a negative androgen response element (nARE) on the promoter of SRD5A3 in vivo and directly binds to the nARE in vitro. The different expression levels of 5α-reductase isoenzymes may confer response or resistance to 5α-reductase inhibitors and thus may have importance in prostate cancer prevention.
PMCID: PMC3237548  PMID: 22194926
18.  Androgen Depletion Upregulates Cadherin-11 Expression in Prostate Cancer 
The Journal of pathology  2010;221(1):68-76.
Men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (PCa) frequently develop metastasis in bone. The reason for this association is unclear. We have previously shown that cadherin-11 (also known as OB-cadherin), a homophilic cell adhesion molecule that mediates osteoblast adhesion, plays a role in the metastasis of PCa to bone. Here, we report that androgen deprivation therapy upregulates cadherin-11 expression in PCa. In human PCa specimens, immunohistochemical staining showed that 22 of 26 (85%) primary PCa tumors from men with castration-resistant PCa expressed cadherin-11. In contrast, only 7 of 50 (14%) androgen-dependent PCa tumors expressed cadherin-11. In the MDA-PCa-2b xenograft animal model, cadherin-11 was expressed in the recurrent tumors following castration. In the PCa cell lines, there is an inverse correlation between expression of cadherin-11 and androgen receptor (AR), and cadherin-11 is expressed in very low levels or not expressed in AR positive cell lines, including LNCaP, C4-2B4, and VCaP cells. We showed that AR likely regulates cadherin-11 expression in PCa through an indirect mechanism. Although re-expression of AR in the AR-negative PC3 cells led to the inhibition of cadherin-11 expression, depletion of androgen from the culture medium or down regulation of AR by RNA interference in the C4-2B4 cells or VCaP cells only produce a modest increase of cadherin-11 expression. Promoter analysis indicated that cadherin-11 promoter does not contain a typical AR binding element, and AR elicits a modest inhibition of cadherin-11 promoter activity, suggesting that AR does not regulate cadherin-11 expression directly. Together, these results suggest that androgen deprivation upregulates cadherin-11 expression in prostate cancer and this may contribute to the metastasis of PCa to bone. Our study suggests that therapeutic strategies that block cadherin-11 expression or function may be considered when applying androgen ablation therapy.
PMCID: PMC2936767  PMID: 20191612
PCa; androgen receptor; cadherin-11; bone metastasis; osteoblast
19.  Prioritizing genes associated with prostate cancer development 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:599.
The genetic control of prostate cancer development is poorly understood. Large numbers of gene-expression datasets on different aspects of prostate tumorigenesis are available. We used these data to identify and prioritize candidate genes associated with the development of prostate cancer and bone metastases. Our working hypothesis was that combining meta-analyses on different but overlapping steps of prostate tumorigenesis will improve identification of genes associated with prostate cancer development.
A Z score-based meta-analysis of gene-expression data was used to identify candidate genes associated with prostate cancer development. To put together different datasets, we conducted a meta-analysis on 3 levels that follow the natural history of prostate cancer development. For experimental verification of candidates, we used in silico validation as well as in-house gene-expression data.
Genes with experimental evidence of an association with prostate cancer development were overrepresented among our top candidates. The meta-analysis also identified a considerable number of novel candidate genes with no published evidence of a role in prostate cancer development. Functional annotation identified cytoskeleton, cell adhesion, extracellular matrix, and cell motility as the top functions associated with prostate cancer development. We identified 10 genes--CDC2, CCNA2, IGF1, EGR1, SRF, CTGF, CCL2, CAV1, SMAD4, and AURKA--that form hubs of the interaction network and therefore are likely to be primary drivers of prostate cancer development.
By using this large 3-level meta-analysis of the gene-expression data to identify candidate genes associated with prostate cancer development, we have generated a list of candidate genes that may be a useful resource for researchers studying the molecular mechanisms underlying prostate cancer development.
PMCID: PMC2988752  PMID: 21044312
20.  Quantification of Mineralized Bone Response to Prostate Cancer by Noninvasive In Vivo μCT and Non-Destructive Ex Vivo μCT and DXA in a Mouse Model 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9854.
To compare nondestructive in vivo and ex vivo micro-computed tomography (μCT) and ex vivo dual-energy-X-ray-absorptiometry (DXA) in characterizing mineralized cortical and trabecular bone response to prostate cancer involving the skeleton in a mouse model.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In vivo μCT was performed before and 10 weeks after implantation of human prostate cancer cells (MDA-PCa-2b) or vehicle into SCID mouse femora. After resection, femora were imaged by nondestructive ex vivo specimen μCT at three voxel sizes (31 µ, 16 µ, 8 µ) and DXA, and then sectioned for histomorphometric analysis of mineralized bone. Bone mineral density (BMD), trabecular parameters (number, TbN; separation, TbSp; thickness, TbTh) and mineralized bone volume/total bone volume (BV/TV) were compared and correlated among imaging methods and histomorphometry. Statistical tests were considered significant if P<0.05. Ten weeks post inoculation, diaphyseal BMD increased in the femur with tumor compared to the opposite femur by all modalities (p<0.005, n = 11). Diaphyseal BMD by in vivo μCT correlated with ex vivo 31 and 16 µm μCT and histomorphometry BV/TV (r = 0.91–0.94, P<0.001, n = 11). DXA BMD correlated less with bone histomorphometry (r = 0.73, P<0.001, n = 11) and DXA did not distinguish trabeculae from cortex. By in vivo and ex vivo μCT, trabecular BMD decreased (P<0.05, n = 11) as opposed to the cortex. Unlike BMD, trabecular morphologic parameters were threshold-dependent and when using “fixed-optimal-thresholds,” all except TbTh demonstrated trabecular loss with tumor and correlated with histomorphometry (r = 0.73–0.90, P<0.05, n = 11).
Prostate cancer involving the skeleton can elicit a host bone response that differentially affects the cortex compared to trabeculae and that can be quantified noninvasively in vivo and nondestructively ex vivo.
PMCID: PMC2847943  PMID: 20360964
21.  Soluble ErbB3 Levels in Bone Marrow and Plasma of Men with Prostate Cancer 
Prostate cancer (PCa) tends to metastasize to bone and induce osteoblastic lesions. We identified a soluble form of ErbB3, p45-sErbB3, in bone marrow supernatant from men with PCa bone metastasis and showed that p45-sErbB3 forms bone. We aimed to understand clinical implications of soluble ErbB3 (sErbB3) by establishing an ELISA to detect sErbB3 levels in bone marrow and plasma samples.
Experimental Design
We performed ELISAs on marrow from 108 men (34 with androgen-dependent disease, 30 with androgen-independent disease (AI) but negative bone scan [AI/BS-], and 44 with AI and positive bone scan [AI/BS+]); sequential marrow from 5 men during treatment; plasma from 52 men before and after docetaxel treatment and from 95 men ≥70 years old without PCa.
Some men with clinically detectable bone metastasis had high sErbB3 levels. Within the AI/BS- group, higher sErbB3 levels seemed to yield lower rates of bone metastasis. In the AI/BS+ group, detectable bone metastases took longer to appear in men with higher sErbB3 levels than in men with lower sErbB3 levels (median, 82 vs. 41 months). However, high sErbB3 levels did not confer survival benefit after metastasis development. Among men with metastatic progression in bone, docetaxel treatment reduced plasma sErbB3 (P < 0.0001) but did not affect bone-specific AP (P = 0.206) or prostate-specific antigen (P = 0.906). sErbB3 was also detected in men without PCa.
The apparent correlation between higher sErbB3 levels and longer time to bone metastasis suggests that sErbB3 participates in prostate cancer’s progression in bone.
PMCID: PMC2562877  PMID: 18559590
soluble ErbB3; prostate cancer; bone metastasis
22.  Androgen receptor–negative human prostate cancer cells induce osteogenesis in mice through FGF9-mediated mechanisms 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2008;118(8):2697-2710.
In prostate cancer, androgen blockade strategies are commonly used to treat osteoblastic bone metastases. However, responses to these therapies are typically brief, and the mechanism underlying androgen-independent progression is not clear. Here, we established what we believe to be the first human androgen receptor–negative prostate cancer xenografts whose cells induced an osteoblastic reaction in bone and in the subcutis of immunodeficient mice. Accordingly, these cells grew in castrated as well as intact male mice. We identified FGF9 as being overexpressed in the xenografts relative to other bone-derived prostate cancer cells and discovered that FGF9 induced osteoblast proliferation and new bone formation in a bone organ assay. Mice treated with FGF9-neutralizing antibody developed smaller bone tumors and reduced bone formation. Finally, we found positive FGF9 immunostaining in prostate cancer cells in 24 of 56 primary tumors derived from human organ-confined prostate cancer and in 25 of 25 bone metastasis cases studied. Collectively, these results suggest that FGF9 contributes to prostate cancer–induced new bone formation and may participate in the osteoblastic progression of prostate cancer in bone. Androgen receptor–null cells may contribute to the castration-resistant osteoblastic progression of prostate cancer cells in bone and provide a preclinical model for studying therapies that target these cells.
PMCID: PMC2447924  PMID: 18618013
23.  A secreted isoform of ErbB3 promotes osteonectin expression in bone and enhances the invasiveness of prostate cancer cells 
Cancer research  2007;67(14):6544-6548.
The propensity for prostate cancer to metastasize to bone led us and others to propose that bidirectional interactions between prostate cancer cells and bone are critical for the preferential metastasis of prostate cancer to bone. We previously identified a secreted isoform of ErbB3 (p45-sErbB3) in bone marrow supernatant samples from men with prostate cancer and bone metastasis and showed by immunohistochemical analysis of human tissue specimens that p45-sErbB3 was highly expressed in metastatic prostate cancer cells in bone Here we show that p45-sErbB3 stimulated mouse calvaria to secrete factors that increased the invasiveness of prostate cancer cells in a Boyden chamber invasion assay. Using gene array analysis to identify p45-sErbB3–responsive genes, we found that p45-sErbB3 upregulated expression of osteonectin/SPARC, biglycan, and type I collagen in calvaria. We further show that recombinant osteonectin increased the invasiveness of PC-3 cells, whereas osteonectin-neutralizing antibodies blocked this p45-sErbB3–induced invasiveness. These results indicate that p45-sErbB3 enhances the invasiveness of PC-3 cells in part by stimulating the secretion of osteonectin by bone. Thus, p45-sErbB3 may mediate the bidirectional interactions between prostate cancer cells and bone via osteonectin.
PMCID: PMC2000837  PMID: 17638862
prostate cancer; bone metastasis; p45-sErbB3; osteonectin; SPARC
24.  Bone Microenvironment and Androgen Status Modulate Subcellular Localization of ErbB3 in Prostate Cancer Cells 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2007;5(7):675-684.
ErbB-3, an ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several malignancies, including prostate cancer (PCa). We found that ErbB-3 expression was upregulated in PCa cells within lymph node and bone metastases. Despite being a plasma membrane protein, ErbB-3 was also detected in the nuclei of the PCa cells in the metastatic specimens. Because most metastatic specimens were from men who had undergone androgen ablation, we examined the primary tumors from patients who have undergone hormone deprivation therapy and found that a significant fraction of these specimens showed nuclear localization of ErbB3. We thus assessed the effect of androgens and the bone microenvironment on the nuclear translocation of ErbB-3 by using xenograft tumor models generated from bone-derived PCa cell lines, MDA PCa 2b and PC-3. In subcutaneous tumors, ErbB-3 was predominantly in the membrane/cytoplasm; however, it was present in the nuclei of the tumor cells in femur. Castration of mice bearing subcutaneous MDA PCa 2b tumors induced a transient nuclear translocation of ErbB-3, with relocalization to the membrane/cytoplasm upon tumor recurrence. These findings suggest that the bone microenvironment and androgen status influence the subcellular localization of ErbB-3 in PCa cells. We speculate that nuclear localization of ErbB-3 may aid PCa cell survival during androgen ablation and progression of PCa in bone.
PMCID: PMC2000833  PMID: 17634423
prostate cancer; metastasis; ErbB-3; nuclear localization; androgen-independent progression

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