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      Inhibition of AKT promotes FOXO3a-dependent apoptosis in prostate cancer

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          Growth factor-induced activation of protein kinase-B (PKB), also known as AKT, induces pro-survival signaling and inhibits activation of pro-apoptotic signaling molecules including the Forkhead box O-3a (FOXO3a) transcription factor and caspase in transformed prostate cells in vitro. Earlier we reported that Withaferin-A (WA), a small herbal molecule, induces pro-apoptotic response-4 (Par-4) mediated apoptosis in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) cells. In the present study, we demonstrate that inhibition of AKT facilitates nuclear shuttling of FOXO3a where it regulates Par-4 transcription in CRPC cells. FOXO3a is upstream of Par-4 signaling, which is required for induction of apoptosis in CRPC cells. Promoter bashing studies and Ch-IP analysis confirm a direct interaction of FOXO3a and Par-4; a sequential deletion of FOXO3a-binding sites in the Par-4 promoter fails to induce Par-4 activation. To confirm these observations, we either overexpressed AKT or silenced FOXO3a activation in CRPC cells. Both methods inhibit Par-4 function and apoptosis is significantly compromised. In xenograft tumors derived from AKT-overexpressed CRPC cells, FOXO3a and Par-4 expression is downregulated, leading to aggressive tumor growth. Oral administration of WA to mice with xenograft tumors restores FOXO3a-mediated Par-4 functions and results in inhibited tumor growth. Finally, an inverse correlation of nuclear localization of AKT expression corresponds to cytoplasmic Par-4 localization in human prostate tissue array. Our studies suggest that Par-4 is one of the key transcriptional targets of FOXO3a, and Par-4 activation is required for induction of apoptosis in CRPC cells. Activation of FOXO3a appears to be an attractive target for the treatment of CRPC and molecules such as WA can be explored further for the treatment of CRPC.

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          Most cited references 44

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          The protein kinase Akt induces epithelial mesenchymal transition and promotes enhanced motility and invasiveness of squamous cell carcinoma lines.

          Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important process during development and oncogenesis by which epithelial cells acquire fibroblast-like properties and show reduced intercellular adhesion and increased motility. Squamous cell carcinoma lines engineered to express constitutively active Akt underwent EMT, characterized by down-regulation of the epithelial markers desmoplakin, E-cadherin, and beta-catenin and up-regulation of the mesenchymal marker vimentin. The cells lost epithelial cell morphology and acquired fibroblast-like properties. Additionally, E-cadherin was down-regulated transcriptionally. The cells expressing constitutively active Akt exhibited reduced cell-cell adhesion, increased motility on fibronectin-coated surfaces, and increased invasiveness in animals. AKT is activated in many human carcinomas, and the AKT-driven EMT may confer the motility required for tissue invasion and metastasis. These findings suggest that future therapies based on AKT inhibition may complement conventional treatments by controlling tumor cell invasion and metastasis.
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            The role of PTEN/Akt/PI3K signaling in the maintenance and viability of prostate cancer stem-like cell populations.

            Characterization of the molecular pathways that are required for the viability and maintenance of self-renewing tumor-initiating cells may ultimately lead to improved therapies for cancer. In this study, we show that a CD133(+)/CD44(+) population of cells enriched in prostate cancer progenitors (PCaPs) has tumor-initiating potential and that these progenitors can be expanded under nonadherent, serum-free, sphere-forming conditions. Cells grown under these conditions have increased in vitro clonogenic and in vivo tumorigenic potential. mRNA expression analysis of cells grown under sphere-forming conditions, compared with long-term monolayer cultures, revealed preferential activation of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. PI3K p110alpha and beta-protein levels were higher in cells grown under sphere-forming conditions, and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) knockdown by shRNA led to an increase in sphere formation as well as increased clonogenic and tumorigenic potential. Similarly, shRNA knockdown of FoxO3a led to an increase in tumorigenic potential. Consistent with these results, inhibition of PI3K activity by the dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 led to growth inhibition of PCaPs. Taken together, our data strongly suggest that the PTEN/PI3K/Akt pathways are critical for prostate cancer stem-like cell maintenance and that targeting PI3K signaling may be beneficial in prostate cancer treatment by eliminating prostate cancer stem-like cells.
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              AKT plays a central role in tumorigenesis.


                Author and article information

                Cell Death Dis
                Cell Death Dis
                Cell Death & Disease
                Nature Publishing Group
                February 2016
                25 February 2016
                1 February 2016
                : 7
                : 2
                : e2111
                [1 ]Department of Urology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
                [2 ]Department of Pathology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Department of Urology, University of Louisville , 505 South Hancock Street, CTR Building, Louisville, KY 40202, USA. Tel: 5028523454; Fax: 5028522123; E-mail: chendil.damodaran@ 123456louisville.edu
                Copyright © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited

                Cell Death and Disease is an open-access journal published by Nature Publishing Group. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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                Cell biology


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