BACKGROUND. Recently we reported that silencing the androgen receptor (AR) gene reduced Bcl-xL expression that was associated with a profound apoptotic cell death in prostate cancer cells. In this study we further investigated AR-regulated Bcl-xL expression. METHODS. Prostate cancer cell line LNCaP and its sublines, LNCaP/PURO and LNCaP/Bclxl, were used for cell proliferation assay and xenograft experiments in nude mice. Luciferase gene reporters driven by mouse or human bcl-x gene promoter were used to determine androgen regulation of Bcl-xL expression. RT-PCR and Western blot assays were conducted to assess Bcl-xL gene expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay was performed to determine AR interaction with Bcl-xL promoter. Bcl-xL-induced alteration of gene expression was examined using cDNA microarray assay. RESULTS. In cultured prostate cancer LNCaP cells, androgen treatment significantly increased Bcl-xL expression at mRNA and protein levels via an AR-dependent mechanism. Promoter analyses demonstrated that the AR mediated androgen-stimulated bcl-x promoter activation and that the AR interacted with bcl-x promoter. Enforced expression of Bcl-xL gene dramatically increased cell proliferation in vitro and promoted xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Genome-wide gene profiling analysis revealed that Bcl-xL expression was significantly higher in metastatic and castration-resistant diseases compared to normal prostate tissues or primary cancers. Bcl-xL overexpression significantly increased the expression of cyclin D2, which might be responsible for Bcl-xL-induced cell proliferation and tumor growth. CONCLUSIONS. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that androgen stimulates Bcl-xL expression via the AR and that increased Bcl-xL expression plays a versatile role in castration-resistant progression of prostate cancer.
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