FOXA1 promotes tumor progression in prostate cancer and represents a novel hallmark of castration-resistant prostate cancer

Am J Pathol. 2012 Feb;180(2):848-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.10.021. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Forkhead box protein A1 (FOXA1) modulates the transactivation of steroid hormone receptors and thus may influence tumor growth and hormone responsiveness in prostate cancer. We therefore investigated the correlation of FOXA1 expression with clinical parameters, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) relapse-free survival, and hormone receptor expression in a large cohort of prostate cancer patients at different disease stages. FOXA1 expression did not differ significantly between benign glands from the peripheral zone and primary peripheral zone prostate carcinomas. However, FOXA1 was overexpressed in metastases and particularly in castration-resistant cases, but was expressed at lower levels in both normal and neoplastic transitional zone tissues. FOXA1 levels correlated with higher pT stages and Gleason scores, as well as with androgen (AR) and estrogen receptor expression. Moreover, FOXA1 overexpression was associated with faster biochemical disease progression, which was pronounced in patients with low AR levels. Finally, siRNA-based knockdown of FOXA1 induced decreased cell proliferation and migration. Moreover, in vitro tumorigenicity was inducible by ARs only in the presence of FOXA1, substantiating a functional cooperation between FOXA1 and AR. In conclusion, FOXA1 expression is associated with tumor progression, dedifferentiation of prostate cancer cells, and poorer prognosis, as well as with cellular proliferation and migration and with AR signaling. These findings suggest FOXA1 overexpression as a novel mechanism inducing castration resistance in prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Progression
  • G1 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / physiology
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha / metabolism
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orchiectomy
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 3-alpha
  • RNA, Small Interfering