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Protein Kinase N1 control of androgen-responsive serum response factor action provides rationale for novel prostate cancer treatment strategy


Sustained reliance on androgen receptor (AR) after failure of AR-targeting androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) prevents effective treatment of castration-recurrent (CR) prostate cancer (CaP). Interfering with the molecular machinery by which AR drives CaP progression may be an alternative therapeutic strategy but its feasibility remains to be tested. Here, we explore targeting the mechanism by which AR, via RhoA, conveys androgen-responsiveness to serum response factor (SRF), which controls aggressive CaP behavior and is maintained in CR-CaP. Following a siRNA screen and candidate gene approach, RNA-Seq studies confirmed that the RhoA effector Protein Kinase N1 (PKN1) transduces androgen-responsiveness to SRF. Androgen treatment induced SRF-PKN1 interaction, and PKN1 knockdown or overexpression severely impaired or stimulated, respectively, androgen regulation of SRF target genes. PKN1 overexpression occurred during clinical CR-CaP progression, and hastened CaP growth and shortened CR-CaP survival in orthotopic CaP xenografts. PKN1’s effects on SRF relied on its kinase domain. The multikinase inhibitor lestaurtinib inhibited PKN1 action and preferentially affected androgen regulation of SRF over direct AR target genes. In a CR-CaP patient-derived xenograft, expression of SRF target genes was maintained while AR target gene expression declined and proliferative gene expression increased. PKN1 inhibition decreased viability of CaP cells before and after ADT. In patient-derived CaP explants, lestaurtinib increased AR target gene expression but did not significantly alter SRF target gene or proliferative gene expression. These results provide proof-of-principle for selective forms of ADT that preferentially target different fractions of AR’s transcriptional output to inhibit CaP growth.

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The authors thank Dr. Cassandra Talerico for review of the manuscript and Heemers lab members for helpful discussions. RNA-Seq was supported by NCI grant P30CA016056 involving the use of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Genomic Shared Resource.

Financial support

These studies were supported by DOD PCRP award W81XWH-16–1–0404 (HVH), NIH NCI grants CA166440 (HVH), CA174777 (SMD), CA077739 (JLM), CA232979 (SL) and CA016056 (JLM and SL).

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Correspondence to Hannelore V. Heemers.

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Venkadakrishnan, V.B., DePriest, A.D., Kumari, S. et al. Protein Kinase N1 control of androgen-responsive serum response factor action provides rationale for novel prostate cancer treatment strategy. Oncogene 38, 4496–4511 (2019).

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