Ligand activation of the androgen receptor downregulates E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion and promotes apoptosis of prostatic cancer cells

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Androgen independence is the major cause of endocrine therapy failure in advanced prostate cancer (PC). To examine the effects of human androgen receptor (AR) expression on growth of human PC cells, transfection of full-length AR cDNA in an androgen-insensitive human prostatic adenocarcinoma cell line (DU145) was performed. Transcriptional activity of AR was confirmed by the MMTV luciferase assay and AR expression was assessed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting, and immunocytochemistry. Two stable transfectant cell lines expressing functional AR were established and passaged over 60 times. Under standard culture conditions, AR expression in transfected cells was predominantly cytoplasmic. Exposure to dihydrotestosterone (DHT; 60 pM-10 nM) resulted in a rapid (maximal at 30 minutes) translocation of AR to the nucleus. Treatment with DHT (5 nM) caused a significant reduction in cell-cell adhesion and aggregation accompanied by a decrease in E-cadherin expression. This was associated with up to 40% inhibition of proliferation and approximately two-fold increase in apoptosis. These results suggest that gene transfer-mediated AR expression in DU145 cells confers sensitivity to DHT, modulates cell-cell adhesion through E-cadherin, and suppresses cell growth by inhibiting proliferation and promoting apoptosis. This provides a model for studies of AR-regulated cell signalling and identification of novel androgen-regulated genes in PC.