While the use of next-generation androgen receptor pathway inhibition (ARPI) therapy has significantly increased the survival of patients with metastatic prostate adenocarcinoma (AdPC), several groups have reported a treatment-resistant mechanism, whereby cancer cells can become androgen receptor (AR) indifferent and gain a neuroendocrine (NE)-like phenotype. This subtype of castration-resistant prostate cancer has been termed "treatment-induced castration-resistant neuroendocrine prostate cancer" (CRPC-NE). Recent reports indicate that the overall genomic landscapes of castration-resistant tumors with AdPC phenotypes and CRPC-NE are not significantly altered. However, CRPC-NE tumors have been found to contain a NE-specific pattern throughout their epigenome and splicing transcriptome, which are significantly modified. The molecular mechanisms by which CRPC-NE develops remain unclear, but several factors have been implicated in the progression of the disease. Recently, Ser/Arg repetitive matrix 4 (SRRM4), a neuronal-specific RNA splicing factor that is upregulated in CRPC-NE tumors, has been shown to establish a CRPC-NE-unique splicing transcriptome, to induce a NE-like morphology in AdPC cells, and, most importantly, to transform AdPC cells into CRPC-NE xenografts under ARPI. Moreover, the SRRM4-targeted splicing genes are highly enriched in various neuronal processes, suggesting their roles in facilitating a CRPC-NE program. This article will address the importance of SRRM4-mediated alternative RNA splicing in reprogramming translated proteins to facilitate NE differentiation, survival, and proliferation of cells to establish CRPC-NE tumors. In addition, we will discuss the potential roles of SRRM4 in conjunction with other known pathways and factors important for CRPC-NE development, such as the AR pathway, TP53 and RB1 genes, the FOXA family of proteins, and environmental factors. This study aims to explore the multifaceted functions of SRRM4 and SRRM4-mediated splicing in driving a CRPC-NE program as a coping mechanism for therapy resistance, as well as define future SRRM4-targeted therapeutic approaches for treating CRPC-NE or mitigating its development.
Lee, A. R., Che, N., Lovnicki, J. M., & Dong, X. (2018). Development of neuroendocrine prostate cancers by the Ser/Arg repetitive matrix 4-mediated RNA splicing network. Frontiers in Oncology, 8(APR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00093