TMPRSS2 is an androgen-regulated cell-surface serine protease expressed predominantly in prostate epithelium. TMPRSS2 is expressed highly in localized high-grade prostate cancers and in the majority of human prostate cancer metastases. Through the generation of mouse models with a targeted deletion of Tmprss2, we demonstrate that the activity of this protease regulates cancer cell invasion and metastasis to distant organs. By screening combinatorial peptide libraries, we identified a spectrum of TMPRSS2 substrates that include pro-hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF activated by TMPRSS2 promoted c-MET receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, and initiated a proinvasive epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition phenotype. Chemical library screens identified a potent bioavailable TMPRSS2 inhibitor that suppressed prostate cancer metastasis in vivo. Together, these findings provide a mechanistic link between androgen-regulated signaling programs and prostate cancer metastasis that operate via context-dependent interactions with extracellular constituents of the tumor microenvironment.
To catalog protein-altering mutations that may drive the development of prostate cancers and their progression to metastatic disease systematically, we performed whole-exome sequencing of 23 prostate cancers derived from 16 different lethal metastatic tumors and three high-grade primary carcinomas. All tumors were propagated in mice as xenografts, designated the LuCaP series, to model phenotypic variation, such as responses to cancer-directed therapeutics. Although corresponding normal tissue was not available for most tumors, we were able to take advantage of increasingly deep catalogs of human genetic variation to remove most germline variants. On average, each tumor genome contained ~200 novel nonsynonymous variants, of which the vast majority was specific to individual carcinomas. A subset of genes was recurrently altered across tumors derived from different individuals, including TP53, DLK2, GPC6, and SDF4. Unexpectedly, three prostate cancer genomes exhibited substantially higher mutation frequencies, with 2,000-4,000 novel coding variants per exome. A comparison of castration-resistant and castration-sensitive pairs of tumor lines derived from the same prostate cancer highlights mutations in the Wnt pathway as potentially contributing to the development of castration resistance. Collectively, our results indicate that point mutations arising in coding regions of advanced prostate cancers are common but, with notable exceptions, very few genes are mutated in a substantial fraction of tumors. We also report a previously undescribed subtype of prostate cancers exhibiting "hypermutated" genomes, with potential implications for resistance to cancer therapeutics. Our results also suggest that increasingly deep catalogs of human germline variation may challenge the necessity of sequencing matched tumor-normal pairs.
Retinoblastoma (RB; encoded by RB1) is a tumor suppressor that is frequently disrupted in tumorigenesis and acts in multiple cell types to suppress cell cycle progression. The role of RB in tumor progression, however, is poorly defined. Here, we have identified a critical role for RB in protecting against tumor progression through regulation of targets distinct from cell cycle control. In analyses of human prostate cancer samples, RB loss was infrequently observed in primary disease and was predominantly associated with transition to the incurable, castration-resistant state. Further analyses revealed that loss of the RB1 locus may be a major mechanism of RB disruption and that loss of RB function was associated with poor clinical outcome. Modeling of RB dysfunction in vitro and in vivo revealed that RB controlled nuclear receptor networks critical for tumor progression and that it did so via E2F transcription factor 1-mediated regulation of androgen receptor (AR) expression and output. Through this pathway, RB depletion induced unchecked AR activity that underpinned therapeutic bypass and tumor progression. In agreement with these findings, disruption of the RB/E2F/nuclear receptor axis was frequently observed in the transition to therapy resistance in human disease. Together, these data reveal what we believe to be a new paradigm for RB function in controlling prostate tumor progression and lethal tumor phenotypes.
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