Background: The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27 is a putative tumor suppressor that is downregulated in the majority of human prostate cancers. The mechanism of p27 down-regulation in prostate cancers in unknown, but presumably involves increased proteolysis mediated by the SCFSKP2 ubiquitin ligase complex. Here we used the human prostate cancer cell line LNCaP, which undergoes G1 cell cycle arrest in response to androgen, to examine the role of the SKP2 F-box protein in p27 regulation in prostate cancer.
Results: We show that androgen-induced G1 cell cycle arrest of LNCaP cells coincides with inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 2 activity and p27 accumulation caused by reduced p27 ubiquitylation activity. At the same time, androgen decreased expression of SKP2, but did not affect other components of SCFSKP2. Adenovirus-mediated overexpression of SKP2 led to ectopic down-regulation of p27 in asynchronous cells. Furthermore, SKP2 overexpression was sufficient to overcome p27 accumulation in androgen arrested cells by stimulating cellular p27 ubiquitylation activity. This resulted in transient activation of CDK2 activity, but was insufficient to override the androgen-induced G1 block.
Conclusions: Our studies suggest that SKP2 is a major determinant of p27 levels in human prostate cancer cells. Based on our in vitro studies, we suggest that overexpression of SKP2 may be one of the mechanisms that allow prostate cancer cells to escape growth control mediated by p27. Consequently, the SKP2 pathway may be a suitable target for novel prostate cancer therapies.