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TALEN-engineered AR gene rearrangements reveal endocrine uncoupling of androgen receptor in prostate cancer

Michael D. Nyquist; Yingming Li; Tae Hyun Hwang; Luke S. Manlove; Robert L. Vessella; Kevin A.T. Silverstein; Daniel F. Voytas; Scott M. Dehm

(Profiled Author: Tae Hyun Hwang)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013;110(43):17492-17497.


Androgen receptor (AR) target genes direct development and survival of the prostate epithelial lineage, including prostate cancer (PCa). Thus, endocrine therapies that inhibit the AR ligand-binding domain (LBD) are effective in treating PCa. AR transcriptional reactivation is central to resistance, as evidenced by the efficacy of AR retargeting in castration-resistant PCa (CRPC) with next-generation endocrine therapies abiraterone and enzalutamide. However, resistance to abiraterone and enzalutamide limits this efficacy in most men, and PCa remains the second-leading cause of male cancer deaths. Here we show that AR gene rearrangements in CRPC tissues underlie a completely androgen-independent, yet AR-dependent, resistance mechanism. We discovered intragenic AR gene rearrangements in CRPC tissues, which we modeled using transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated genome engineering. This modeling revealed that these AR gene rearrangements blocked full-length AR synthesis, but promoted expression of truncated AR variant proteins lacking the AR ligand- binding domain. Furthermore, these AR variant proteins maintained the constitutive activity of the AR transcriptional program and a CRPC growth phenotype independent of full-length AR or androgens. These findings demonstrate that AR gene rearrangements are a unique resistance mechanism by which AR transcriptional activity can be uncoupled from endocrine regulation in CRPC.

PMID: 24101480     PMCID: PMC3808622    

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