Background: While prostate cancer can often manifest as an indolent disease, the development of locally-advanced or metastatic disease can cause significant morbidity or mortality. Elucidation of molecular mechanisms contributing to disease progression is crucial for more accurate prognostication and effective treatments. R-Spondin 3 (RSPO3) is a protein previously implicated in the progression of colorectal and lung cancers. However, a role for RSPO3 in prostate cancer prognosis and behaviour has not been explored.
Methods: We compare the relative levels of RSPO3 expression between normal prostate tissue and prostate cancer in two independent patient cohorts (Taylor and GSE70768-Cambridge). We also examine the association of biochemical relapse with RSPO3 levels in these cohorts. For elucidation of the biological effect of RSPO3, we use siRNA technology to reduce the levels of RSPO3 in established prostate cancer cell lines, and perform in vitro proliferation, invasion, western blotting for EMT markers and clonogenic survival assays for radiation resistance. Furthermore, we show consequences of RSPO3 knockdown in an established chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay model of metastasis.
Results: RSPO3 levels are lower in prostate cancer than normal prostate, with a tendency for further loss in metastatic disease. Patients with lower RSPO3 expression have lower rates of biochemical relapse-free survival. SiRNA-mediated loss of RSPO3 results in no change to clonogenic survival and a lower proliferative rate, but increased invasiveness in vitro with induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers. Consistent with these results, lower RSPO3 expression translates to greater metastatic capacity in the CAM assay. Together, our preclinical findings identify a role of RSPO3 downregulation in prostate cancer invasiveness, and provide a potential explanation for how RSPO3 functions as a positive prognostic marker in prostate cancer.
Keywords: Biochemical relapse; Invasion; Prostate cancer; RSPO3.