skip to main content

Title: Aurora Kinase A-YBX1 Synergy Fuels Aggressive Oncogenic Phenotypes and Chemoresistance in Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Multifunctional protein YBX1 upregulation promotes castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, YBX1 protein abundance, but not its DNA status or mRNA levels, predicts CRPC recurrence, although the mechanism remains unknown. Similarly, the mechanism by which YBX1 regulates androgen receptor (AR) signaling remains unclear. We uncovered the first molecular mechanism of YBX1 upregulation at a post-translational level. YBX1 was identified as an Aurora Kinase-A (AURKA) substrate using a chemical screen. AURKA phosphorylates YBX1 at two key residues, which stabilizes it and promotes its nuclear translocation. YBX1 reciprocates and stabilizes AURKA, thereby initiating a synergistic loop. Notably, phospho-resistant YBX1 is dominant-negative and fully inhibits epithelial to mesenchymal transition, chemoresistance, drug-resistance and tumorigenesis in vivo. Unexpectedly, we further observed that YBX1 upregulates AR post-translationally by preventing its ubiquitylation, but not by increasing its transcription as reported before. Uncovering YBX1-mediated AR stabilization is highly significant due to AR’s critical role in both androgen-sensitive prostate cancer and CRPC. As YBX1 inhibitors are unknown, AURKA inhibitors provide a potent tool to degrade both YBX1 and AR simultaneously. Finally, this is the first study to show a reciprocal loop between YBX1 and its kinase, indicating that their concomitant inhibition will be act synergistically for CRPC therapy.
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1708823
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10164390
Journal Name:
Cancers
Volume:
12
Issue:
3
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
660
ISSN:
2072-6694
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. SPOP, an adaptor protein for E3 ubiquitin ligase can function as a tumor-suppressor or a tumor-enhancer. In castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), it inhibits tumorigenesis by degrading many oncogenic targets, including androgen receptor (AR). Expectedly, SPOP is the most commonly mutated gene in CRPC (15%), which closely correlates with poor prognosis. Importantly, 85% of tumors that retain wild-type SPOP show reduced protein levels, indicating that SPOP downregulation is an essential step in CRPC progression. However, the underlying molecular mechanism remains unknown. This study uncovered the first mechanism of SPOP regulation in any type of cancer. We identified SPOP as a directmore »substrate of Aurora A (AURKA) using an innovative technique. AURKA directly phosphorylates SPOP at three sites, causing its ubiquitylation. SPOP degradation drives highly aggressive oncogenic phenotypes in cells and in vivo including stabilizing AR, ARv7 and c-Myc. Further, SPOP degrades AURKA via a feedback loop. SPOP upregulation is one of the mechanisms by which enzalutamide exerts its efficacy. Consequently, phospho-resistant SPOP fully abrogates tumorigenesis and EMT in vivo, and renders CRPC cells sensitive to enzalutamide. While genomic mutations of SPOP can be treated with gene therapy, identification of AURKA as an upstream regulator of SPOP provides a powerful opportunity for retaining WT-SPOP in a vast majority of CRPC patients using AURKA inhibitors ± enzalutamide, thereby treating the disease and inhibiting its progression.« less
  2. Abstract Background

    NKX3.1, a prostate-specific tumor suppressor, is either genomically lost or its protein levels are severely downregulated, which are invariably associated with poor prognosis in prostate cancer (PCa). Nevertheless, a clear disconnect exists between its mRNA and protein levels, indicating that its post-translational regulation may be critical in maintaining its protein levels. Similarly, AURKA is vastly overexpressed in all stages of prostate cancer (PCa), including castration-resistant PCa (CRPC) and neuroendocrine PCa (NEPC), although its transcripts are only increased in ~ 15% of cases, hinting at additional mechanisms of deregulation. Thus, identifying the upstream regulators that control AURKA and NKX3.1’s levels and/or theirmore »downstream effectors offer an alternative route to inhibit AURKA and upregulate NKX3.1 in highly fatal CRPC and NEPC. AURKA and NKX3.1 have not linked to each other in any study to date.

    Methods

    A chemical genetic screen revealed NKX3.1 as a direct target of AURKA. AURKA-NKX3.1 cross-talk was analyzed using several biochemical techniques in CRPC and NEPC cells.

    Results

    We uncovered a reciprocal loop between AURKA and NKX3.1 in CRPC and NEPC cells. We observed that AURKA-mediated NKX3.1 downregulation is a major mechanism that drives CRPC pathogenesis and NEPC differentiation. AURKA phosphorylates NKX3.1 at three sites, which degrades it, but AURKA does not regulate NKX3.1 mRNA levels. NKX3.1 degradation drives highly aggressive oncogenic phenotypes in cells. NKX3.1 also degrades AURKA in a feedback loop. NKX3.1-AURKA loop thus upregulates AKT, ARv7 and Androgen Receptor (AR)-signaling in tandem promoting highly malignant phenotypes. Just as importantly, we observed that NKX3.1 overexpression fully abolished synaptophysin and enolase expression in NEPC cells, uncovering a strong negative relationship between NKX3.1 and neuroendocrine phenotypes, which was further confirmed be measuring neurite outgrowth. While WT-NKX3.1 inhibited neuronal differentiation, 3A-NKX3.1 expression obliterated it.

    Conclusions

    NKX3.1 loss could be a major mechanism causing AURKA upregulation in CRPC and NEPC and vice versa. NKX3.1 genomic loss requires gene therapy, nonetheless, targeting AURKA provides a powerful tool to maintain NKX3.1 levels. Conversely, when NKX3.1 upregulation strategy using small molecules comes to fruition, AURKA inhibition should work synergistically due to the reciprocal loop in these highly aggressive incurable diseases.

    « less
  3. Dysregulation of the receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) by means of mutation, amplification or overexpression plays a crucial role in cell growth, cell survival, cell motility during cancer progression and metastasis. EPHA3 (erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular carcinoma cell surface type A receptor 3) is a member of the RTKs. Evidence indicates that the upregulation of the EPHA3 activity is implicated in the pathobiology of various cancers, including prostate cancer, and thus, it is a prime therapeutic target in cancer. However, the role of EPHA3 signaling in prostate cancer progression remains obscure. Currently, the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) poses a clinical challengemore »because it is lethal. The molecular mechanisms that contribute to lethal prostate cancer are largely unknown. The objective of this study is to investigate whether EPHA3 signaling plays a critical role in prostate cancer progression and therapeutic relapse. Our analysis of the prostate cancer public datasets revealed that the EPHA3 gene was amplified up to 19% of metastatic CRPC cases with the neuroendocrine phenotype. Our immunological assay confirmed the positive staining of EPHA3 protein in human prostate cancer specimens. Our semi-quantitative and quantitative PCR assays demonstrated that the levels of EPHA3 vary among established prostate cancer cell lines. Nevertheless, we consistently found that the levels of EPHA3 mRNA in CRPC cell line, C4-2, were 3-fold higher than its castration-sensitive parental LNCaP cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that an increase in expression of EPHA3 mRNA in C4-2 compared with LNCaP cells coincided with the upregulation of the EPHA3 protein, as independently confirmed by western blotting and immunofluorescence imaging. These findings indicate that EPHA3 may confer an aggressive prostate cancer cell phenotype. Because androgen receptor (AR) signaling is a potent mediator of CRPC cell growth and survival, the targeting of EPHA3 signaling alone or together with AR may improve the efficacy of current therapies for patients with advanced prostate cancer.« less
  4. The transcriptional coactivator YAP1 (yes-associated protein 1) regulates cell proliferation, cell–cell interactions, organ size, and tumorigenesis. Post-transcriptional modifications and nuclear translocation of YAP1 are crucial for its nuclear activity. The objective of this study was to elucidate the mechanism by which the steroid hormone androgen regulates YAP1 nuclear entry and functions in several human prostate cancer cell lines. We demonstrate that androgen exposure suppresses the inactivating post-translational modification phospho–Ser-127 in YAP1, coinciding with increased YAP1 nuclear accumulation and activity. Pharmacological and genetic experiments revealed that intact androgen receptor signaling is necessary for androgen's inactivating effect on phospho–Ser-127 levels and increasedmore »YAP1 nuclear entry. We also found that androgen exposure antagonizes Ser/Thr kinase 4 (STK4/MST1) signaling, stimulates the activity of protein phosphatase 2A, and thereby attenuates the phospho–Ser-127 modification and promotes YAP1 nuclear localization. Results from quantitative RT-PCR and CRISPR/Cas9–aided gene knockout experiments indicated that androgen differentially regulates YAP1-dependent gene expression. Furthermore, an unbiased computational analysis of the prostate cancer data from The Cancer Genome Atlas revealed that YAP1 and androgen receptor transcript levels correlate with each other in prostate cancer tissues. These findings indicate that androgen regulates YAP1 nuclear localization and its transcriptional activity through the androgen receptor–STK4/MST1–protein phosphatase 2A axis, which may have important implications for human diseases such as prostate cancer.« less
  5. Cell-cell interaction is critical for tissue development and repair, immunological responses, and cancer cell metastasis. The tyrosine kinase EPHA3 (erythropoietin‑producing hepatocellular carcinoma cell surface type-A receptor 3) regulates cell-cell interaction, cell differentiation, and cancer cell survival. Previously, our published study indicated that the theSTK4-encoded MST1 signaling, a core kinase component of the Hippo pathway, suppressedEPHA3 expression in the prostate cancer cell models. However, the mechanism is unknown. Here, we have demonstrated that the YAP1 and TEAD1 proteins, critical nuclear effectors of the Hippo pathway, mediate EPHA3 expression. First, we showed that AR-positive cell lines express the highest levels of EPHA3more »and its ligand, ephrin-A5, transcripts compared with other EPH family members. Second, we demonstrated the induction of MST1/STK4attenuated the EPHA3 protein and transcripts, consistent with our initial observation. Next, we demonstrated that the knockdown of YAP1 by siRNA suppressed EPHA3 protein and mRNA expression. Similarly, the silencing of the TEAD1-4 proteins, critical mediators of YAP1-dependent gene transcription, revealed that the TEAD1 is a crucial inducer of EPHA3expression. Moreover, bioinformatics tools allowed the identification of three putative TEAD binding sites (p<0.001) in the promoter region of the EPHA3 gene. Furthermore, CRISPR/Cas9-aided EPHA3 knockout significantly (p<0.01), decreased cell growth in monolayer and sphere formation in 3D cultures, and caused androgen-independent cells to become sensitive to enzalutamide, a potent direct inhibitor of AR activity. These observations suggest that the YAP/TEAD1 transcriptionally regulates EPHA3 and its cellular biology.« less