Androgen receptor (AR) signaling is crucial for driving prostate cancer (PCa), the most diagnosed and the second leading cause of death in male patients with cancer in the United States. Androgen deprivation therapy is initially effective in most instances of AR-positive advanced or metastatic PCa. However, patients inevitably develop lethal castration-resistant PCa (CRPC), which is also resistant to the next-generation AR signaling inhibitors. Most CRPCs maintain AR expression, and blocking AR signaling remains a main therapeutic approach. GATA2 is a pioneer transcription factor emerging as a key therapeutic target for PCa because it promotes AR expression and activation. While directly inhibiting GATA2 transcriptional activity remains challenging, enhancing GATA2 degradation is a plausible therapeutic strategy. How GATA2 protein stability is regulated in PCa remains unknown. Here, we show that constitutive photomorphogenesis protein 1 (COP1), an E3 ubiquitin ligase, drives GATA2 ubiquitination at K419/K424 for degradation. GATA2 lacks a conserved [D/E](x)xxVP[D/E] degron but uses alternate BR1/BR2 motifs to bind COP1. By promoting GATA2 degradation, COP1 inhibits AR expression and activation and represses PCa cell and xenograft growth and castration resistance. Accordingly, GATA2 overexpression or COP1 mutations that disrupt COP1-GATA2 binding block COP1 tumor-suppressing activities. We conclude that GATA2 is a major COP1 substrate in PCa and that COP1 promotion of GATA2 degradation is a direct mechanism for regulating AR expression and activation, PCa growth, and castration resistance.
Keywords: AR; COP1; GATA2; prostate cancer; ubiquitination.