High cell-surface GnRH receptor (GnRH-R) levels have been shown to have a major influence on the extent of GnRH agonist-mediated tumor growth inhibition. The ability of the GnRH agonist leuprorelin acetate (LA) to induce a post-transcriptional upregulation of GnRH-R at the plasma membrane of androgen-sensitive (LNCaP) and -insensitive (PC-3) prostate cancer (PCa) cells has been previously demonstrated by Western blotting. Here we performed single molecule force spectroscopy by using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), which has proven to be a powerful tool allowing for investigation of living cell surface biological features, such as the so far unclear GnRH agonist/receptor interaction. Thus, in the hormone-insensitive PC-3 cells, we characterized the strength of the LA-receptor binding, and the amount and distribution of the functional receptor molecules on the cell surface. The effect of a long and continuous treatment (up to 30 days) with the agonist (10(-11) and 10(-6) M) on the same parameters was also investigated. A GnRH-R increase was observed, reaching the maximum (∼80%) after 30 days of treatment with the highest dose of LA (10(-6) M). The analogue-induced increase in GnRH-R was also demonstrated by Western blotting. In addition, two different receptor bound strengths were detected by AFM, which suggests the existence of two GnRH-R classes. A homogeneous distribution of the unbinding events has been found on untreated and treated PC-3 cell surfaces. The persistence of high receptor levels at the membrane of these living cells may warrant the maintenance of the response to LA also in androgen-unresponsive PCa. Moreover, the determination of ligand/receptor bond strength could shed light on the poorly understood event of LA/GnRH-R interaction and/or address structural/chemical agonist optimizations.
Lama, G., Papi, M., Angelucci, C., Maulucci, G., Sica, G., & de Spirito, M. (2013). Leuprorelin Acetate Long-Lasting Effects on GnRH Receptors of Prostate Cancer Cells: An Atomic Force Microscopy Study of Agonist/Receptor Interaction. PLoS ONE, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052530