Background: Androgen receptor (AR) is the key molecule in androgen-refractory prostate cancer. Despite androgen ablative conditions, AR remains active and is necessary for the growth of androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells. Nuclear localization of AR is a prerequisite for its transcriptional activation. We examined AR localization in androgen-dependent and androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells.
Methods and results: We demonstrate increased nuclear localization of a GFP-tagged AR in the absence of hormone in androgen-refractory C4-2 cells compared to parental androgen-sensitive human prostate cancer LNCaP cells. Analysis of AR mutants impaired in ligand-binding indicates that the nuclear localization of AR in C4-2 cells is truly androgen-independent. The hsp90 inhibitor, 17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG), inhibits basal PSA expression and disrupts the ligand-independent nuclear localization of AR at doses much lower than required to inhibit androgen-induced nuclear import.
Conclusions: Hsp90 is a key regulator of ligand-independent nuclear localization and activation of AR in androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells.