Background: While localized prostate cancer (PCa) can be effectively cured, metastatic disease inevitably progresses to a lethal state called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Emerging evidence suggests that aberrant epigenetic repression by the polycomb group (PcG) complexes fuels PCa progression, providing novel therapeutic opportunities.
Results: In the search for potential epigenetic drivers of CRPC, we analyzed the molecular profile of PcG members in patient-derived xenografts and clinical samples. Overall, our results identify the PcG protein and methyl-lysine reader CBX2 as a potential therapeutic target in advanced PCa. We report that CBX2 was recurrently up-regulated in metastatic CRPC and that elevated CBX2 expression was correlated with poor clinical outcome in PCa cohorts. Furthermore, CBX2 depletion abrogated cell viability and induced caspase 3-mediated apoptosis in metastatic PCa cell lines. Mechanistically explaining this phenotype, microarray analysis in CBX2-depleted cells revealed that CBX2 controls the expression of many key regulators of cell proliferation and metastasis.
Conclusions: Taken together, this study provides the first evidence that CBX2 inhibition induces cancer cell death, positioning CBX2 as an attractive drug target in lethal CRPC.
Keywords: CBX2; Castration-resistant prostate cancer; Epigenetics; Metastatic prostate cancer; Polycomb.