Patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) develop resistance to conventional therapies including docetaxel (DTX). Identifying molecular pathways underlying DTX resistance is critical for developing novel combinatorial therapies to prevent or reverse this resistance. To identify transcriptomic signatures associated with acquisition of chemoresistance we profiled gene expression in DTXsensitive and-resistant mCRPC cells using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). PC3 and DU145 cells were selected for DTX resistance and this phenotype was validated by immunoblotting using DTX resistance markers (e.g. clusterin, ABCB1/P-gp, and LEDGF/p75). Overlapping genes differentially regulated in the DTX-sensitive and-resistant cells were ranked by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) and validated to correlate transcript with protein expression. GSEA revealed that genes associated with cancer stem cells (CSC) (e.g., NES, TSPAN8, DPPP, DNAJC12, and MYC) were highly ranked and comprised 70% of the top 25 genes differentially upregulated in the DTX-resistant cells. Established markers of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and CSCs were used to evaluate the stemness of adherent DTX-resistant cells (2D cultures) and tumorspheres (3D cultures). Increased formation and frequency of cells expressing CSC markers were detected in DTX-resistant cells. DU145-DR cells showed a 2-fold increase in tumorsphere formation and increased DTX resistance compared to DU145-DR 2D cultures. These results demonstrate the induction of a transcriptomic program associated with stemness in mCRPC cells selected for DTX resistance, and strengthen the emerging body of evidence implicating CSCs in this process. In addition, they provide additional candidate genes and molecular pathways for potential therapeutic targeting to overcome DTX resistance.
Ross, C. K. C. D., Martinez, S. R., Woods-Burnham, L., Durán, A. M., Roy, S., Basu, A., … Casiano, C. A. (2018). RNA sequencing reveals upregulation of a transcriptomic program associated with stemness in metastatic prostate cancer cells selected for taxane resistance. Oncotarget, 9(54), 30363–30384. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25744