Wei-Yu Chen , 1 , 2 , Yu-Ching Wen 3 , 4 , Shian-Ren Lin 5 , Hsiu-Lien Yeh 6 , Kuo-Ching Jiang 5 , Wei-Hao Chen 5 , Yow-Sien Lin 7 , Qingfu Zhang 8 , Phui-Ly Liew 9 , 10 , Michael Hsiao 11 , Jiaoti Huang 12 , Yen-Nien Liu , 5
4 January 2021
Nerve growth factor (NGF) contributes to the progression of malignancy. However, the functional role and regulatory mechanisms of NGF in the development of neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) are unclear. Here, we show that an androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT)-stimulated transcription factor, ZBTB46, upregulated NGF via ZBTB46 mediated-transcriptional activation of NGF. NGF regulates NEPC differentiation by physically interacting with a G-protein-coupled receptor, cholinergic receptor muscarinic 4 (CHRM4), after ADT. Pharmacologic NGF blockade and NGF knockdown markedly inhibited CHRM4-mediated NEPC differentiation and AKT-MYCN signaling activation. CHRM4 stimulation was associated with ADT resistance and was significantly correlated with increased NGF in high-grade and small-cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer (SCNC) patient samples. Our results reveal a role of the NGF in the development of NEPC that is linked to ZBTB46 upregulation and CHRM4 accumulation. Our study provides evidence that the NGF-CHRM4 axis has potential to be considered as a therapeutic target to impair NEPC progression.
Here, the authors discover that NGF, upregulated by transcription factor ZBTB46 in prostate cancer exposed to androgen therapy, promotes neuroendocrine differentiation. They show that NGF interacts with the GPCR CHRM4, that both NGF and CHRM4 are upregulated in highly metastatic prostate cancer and that targeting NGF reduces therapy resistance in a mouse xenograft model.