A Novel FGFR3 Splice Variant Preferentially Expressed in African American Prostate Cancer Drives Aggressive Phenotypes and Docetaxel Resistance

Mol Cancer Res. 2019 Oct;17(10):2115-2125. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-19-0415. Epub 2019 Jul 2.


Alternative splicing (AS) has been shown to participate in prostate cancer development and progression; however, a link between AS and prostate cancer health disparities has been largely unexplored. Here we report on the cloning of a novel splice variant of FGFR3 that is preferentially expressed in African American (AA) prostate cancer. This novel variant (FGFR3-S) omits exon 14, comprising 123 nucleotides that encode the activation loop in the intracellular split kinase domain. Ectopic overexpression of FGFR3-S in European American (EA) prostate cancer cell lines (PC-3 and LNCaP) led to enhanced receptor autophosphorylation and increased activation of the downstream signaling effectors AKT, STAT3, and ribosomal S6 compared with FGFR3-L (retains exon 14). The increased oncogenic signaling imparted by FGFR3-S was associated with a substantial gain in proliferative and antiapoptotic activities, as well as a modest but significant gain in cell motility. Moreover, the FGFR3-S-conferred proliferative and motility gains were highly resistant to the pan-FGFR small-molecule inhibitor dovitinib and the antiapoptotic gain was insensitive to the cytotoxic drug docetaxel, which stands in marked contrast with dovitinib- and docetaxel-sensitive FGFR3-L. In an in vivo xenograft model, mice injected with PC-3 cells overexpressing FGFR3-S exhibited significantly increased tumor growth and resistance to dovitinib treatment compared with cells overexpressing FGFR3-L. In agreement with our in vitro and in vivo findings, a high FGFR3-S/FGFR3-L expression ratio in prostate cancer specimens was associated with poor patient prognosis. IMPLICATIONS: This work identifies a novel FGFR3 splice variant and supports the hypothesis that differential AS participates in prostate cancer health disparities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / genetics*
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Docetaxel / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Humans
  • Male
  • PC-3 Cells
  • Phenotype
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • RNA Splicing
  • Rabbits
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3 / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Survival Analysis
  • Transfection


  • Docetaxel
  • FGFR3 protein, human
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3