Malate dehydrogenase 2 confers docetaxel resistance via regulations of JNK signaling and oxidative metabolism

Prostate. 2013 Jul;73(10):1028-37. doi: 10.1002/pros.22650. Epub 2013 Feb 6.


Background: Resistance to chemotherapy represents a significant obstacle in prostate cancer therapeutics. Novel mechanistic understandings in cancer cell chemotherapeutic sensitivity and resistance can optimize treatment and improve patient outcome. Molecular alterations in the metabolic pathways are associated with cancer development; however, the role of these alterations in chemotherapy efficacy is largely unknown.

Methods: In a bed-side to bench-side reverse translational approach, we used cDNA microarray and qRT-PCR to identify genes that are associated with biochemical relapse after chemotherapy. Further, we tested the function of these genes in cell proliferation, metabolism, and chemosensitivity in prostate cancer cell lines.

Results: We report that the gene encoding mitochondrial malate dehydrogenase 2 (MDH2) is overexpressed in clinical prostate cancer specimens. Patients with MDH2 overexpression had a significantly shorter period of relapse-free survival (RFS) after undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy. To understand the molecular mechanism underlying this clinical observation, we observed that MDH2 expression was elevated in prostate cancer cell lines compared to benign prostate epithelial cells. Stable knockdown of MDH2 via shRNA in prostate cancer cell lines decreased cell proliferation and increased docetaxel sensitivity. Further, MDH2 shRNA enhanced docetaxel-induced activations of JNK signaling and induced metabolic inefficiency.

Conclusion: Taken together, these data suggest a novel function for MDH2 in prostate cancer development and chemotherapy resistance, in which MDH2 regulates chemotherapy-induced signal transduction and oxidative metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Docetaxel
  • Drug Resistance / genetics*
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics*
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Malate Dehydrogenase