Androgens and the androgen receptor are important for both normal prostate development and progression of prostate cancer (PCa). However, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. The Polycomb protein enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) functions as an epigenetic gene silencer and plays a role in oncogenesis by promoting cell proliferation and invasion. EZH2 has been implicated in human PCa progression, because its expression is often elevated in hormone-refractory PCa. Here, we demonstrated that expression of EZH2 is lower in androgen-sensitive LNCaP PCa cells compared with Rf and C4-2 cells, two androgen-refractory sublines that are derived from LNCaP cells. Androgen ablation by castration increased the level of EZH2 proteins in LNCaP xenografts in mice. In contrast, treatment of LNCaP cells in culture with the synthetic androgen methyltrieolone (R1881) at doses of 1 nM or higher suppressed EZH2 expression. Moreover, our data suggest that androgen repression of EZH2 requires a functional androgen receptor and this effect is mediated through the retinoblastoma protein and its related protein p130. We further showed that androgen treatment not only increases expression of EZH2 target genes DAB2IP and E-cadherin but also affects LNCaP cell migration. Our results reveal that androgens function as an epigenetic regulator in prostatic cells by repression of EZH2 expression through the retinoblastoma protein and p130-dependent pathways. Our findings also suggest that blockade of EZH2 derepression during androgen deprivation therapy may represent an effective tactic for the treatment of androgen-refractory PCa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas