p21-Activated kinase 4 promotes prostate cancer progression through CREB

Oncogene. 2013 May 9;32(19):2475-82. doi: 10.1038/onc.2012.255. Epub 2012 Jun 18.


Prostate cancer is initially androgen-dependent but, over time, usually develops hormone- and chemo-resistance. The present study investigated a role for p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4) in prostate cancer progression. PAK4 activation was markedly inhibited by H89, a specific protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, and PAK4 was activated by the elevation of cAMP. The catalytic subunit of PKA interacted with the regulatory domain of PAK4, and directly phosphorylated PAK4 at serine 474 (S474). Catalytically active PAK4 enhanced the transcriptional activity of CREB independent of S133 phosphorylation. Stable knockdown of PAK4 in PC-3 and DU145 prostate cancer cells inhibited tumor formation in nude mice. Decreased tumorigenicity correlated with decreased expression of CREB and its targets, including Bcl-2 and cyclin A1. Additionally, in androgen-dependent LNCap-FGC cells, PAK4 regulated cAMP-induced neuroendocrine differentiation, which is known to promote tumor progression. Finally, PAK4 enhanced survival and decreased apoptosis following chemotherapy. These results suggested that PAK4 regulates progression toward hormone- and chemo-resistance in prostate cancer, and this study identified both a novel activation mechanism and potential downstream effector pathways. Therefore, PAK4 may be a promising therapeutic target in prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CREB-Binding Protein / genetics
  • CREB-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • Cell Growth Processes / physiology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • p21-Activated Kinases / genetics
  • p21-Activated Kinases / metabolism*


  • CREB-Binding Protein
  • CREBBP protein, human
  • PAK4 protein, human
  • p21-Activated Kinases