CHK2 – AR signaling paper accepted in Cancer Research

Checkpoint kinase 2 (CHK2) negatively regulates androgen sensitivity and prostate cancer cell growth

Huy Q Ta, Melissa L Ivey, Henry F Frierson, Jr, Mark R Conaway, Jaroslaw Dziegielewski, James M Larner, Daniel Gioeli

Abstract

Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, and curing metastatic disease remains a significant challenge. Nearly all patients with disseminated PCa initially respond to androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), but virtually all patient will relapse and develop incurable castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). A high-throughput RNAi screen to identify signaling pathways regulating PCa cell growth led to our discovery that Checkpoint Kinase 2 (CHK2) knockdown dramatically increased PCa growth and hypersensitized cells to low androgen levels. Mechanistic investigations revealed that the effects of CHK2 were dependent on the downstream signaling proteins CDC25C and CDK1. Moreover, CHK2 depletion increased androgen receptor (AR) transcriptional activity on androgen-regulated genes, substantiating the finding that CHK2 affects PCa proliferation, partly, through the AR. Remarkably, we further show that CHK2 is a novel AR-repressed gene, suggestive of a negative feedback loop between CHK2 and AR. Additionally, we provide evidence that CHK2 physically associates with the AR, and that cell cycle inhibition increased this association. Finally, immunohistochemical analysis of CHK2 in prostate cancer patient samples demonstrated a decrease in CHK2 expression in high-grade tumors. In conclusion, we propose that CHK2 is a negative regulator of androgen sensitivity and PCa growth, and that CHK2 signaling is lost during prostate cancer progression to castration resistance. Thus, perturbing CHK2 signaling may offer a new therapeutic approach for sensitizing CRPC to ADT and radiation.