The progression of prostate cancer from an organ-confined, androgen-sensitive disease to a metastatic one is associated with dysregulation of androgen receptor (AR)-regulated target genes and with a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF1R) expression. DNA methylation of CpG islands is an epigenetic mechanism associated with gene silencing. Recent studies have demonstrated that methylation occurs early in prostate carcinogenesis and, furthermore, may contribute to androgen independence. The methylation status of the AR and IGF1R genes was evaluated in a series of prostate cancer cell lines corresponding to early (benign) and advanced (metastatic) stages of the disease. Results of 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) experiments, methylation-specific PCR, and sodium bisulfite-direct DNA sequencing revealed that the AR promoter is hypermethylated in metastatic M12, but not in benign P69, cells. On the other hand, no methylation was seen in the IGF1R promoter at any stage of the disease. We show, however, that 5-Aza treatment, which caused demethylation of the AR promoter, led to a significant increase in IGF1R mRNA levels, whereas addition of the AR inhibitor flutamide decreased the IGF1R mRNA levels to basal values measured prior to the 5-Aza treatment. Given that the IGF1R gene has been identified as a downstream target for AR action, our data is consistent with a model in which the AR gene undergoes methylation during progression of the disease, leading to dysregulation of AR targets, including the IGF1R gene, at advanced metastatic stages.
- Androgen receptor
- DNA methylation
- Epigenetic regulation
- Insulin-like growth factor-I receptor (IGF1R)
- Prostate cancer