The standard systemic treatment for prostate cancer (PCa) is androgen ablation, which causes tumor regression by inhibiting activity of the androgen receptor (AR). Invariably, PCa recurs with a fatal androgen-refractory phenotype. Importantly, the growth of androgen-refractory PCa remains dependent on the AR through various mechanisms of aberrant AR activation. Here, we studied the 22Rv1 PCa cell line, which was derived from a CWR22 xenograft that relapsed during androgen ablation. Three AR isoforms are expressed in 22Rv1 cells: a full-length version with duplicated exon 3 and two truncated versions lacking the COOH terminal domain (CTD). We found that CTD-truncated AR isoforms are encoded by mRNAs that have a novel exon 2b at their 3′ end. Functionally, these AR isoforms are constitutively active and promote the expression of endogenous AR-dependent genes, as well as the proliferation of 22Rv1 cells in a ligand-independent manner. AR mRNAs containing exon 2b and their protein products are expressed in commonly studied PCa cell lines. Moreover, exon 2b-derived species are enriched in xenograft-based models of therapy-resistant PCa. Together, our data describe a simple and effective mechanism by which PCa cells can synthesize a constitutively active AR and thus circumvent androgen ablation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research