Background: Effective treatment of prostate cancer should be based on targeting interactions between tumour cell signalling pathways and key converging downstream effectors. Here, we determined how the tumourigenic phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT), tumour-suppressive phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) pathways are integrated via the metastasis suppressor, N-myc downstream-regulated gene-1 (NDRG1). Moreover, we assessed how the novel anti-tumour agent, Dp44mT, may target these integrated pathways by increasing NDRG1 expression.
Methods: Protein expression in Dp44mT-treated normal human prostate epithelial cells and prostate cancer cells (PC-3, DU145) was assessed by western blotting. The role of NDRG1 was examined by transfection using an NDRG1 overexpression vector or shRNA.
Results: Dp44mT increased levels of tumour-suppressive PTEN, and decreased phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and SMAD2L, which are regulated by oncogenic Ras/MAPK signalling. Importantly, the effects of Dp44mT on NDRG1 and p-SMAD2L expression were more marked in prostate cancer cells than normal prostate epithelial cells. This may partly explain the anti-tumour selectivity of these agents. Silencing NDRG1 expression increased phosphorylation of tumourigenic AKT, ERK1/2 and SMAD2L and decreased PTEN levels, whereas NDRG1 overexpression induced the opposite effect. Furthermore, NDRG1 silencing significantly reduced the ability of Dp44mT to suppress p-SMAD2L and p-ERK1/2 levels.
Conclusion: NDRG1 has an important role in mediating the tumour-suppressive effects of Dp44mT in prostate cancer via selective targeting of the PI3K/AKT, TGF-β and ERK pathways.