Role of the transcription factor activator protein-2α in prostate carcinogenesis

Maribelis Ruiz Vega, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Activator protein 2α (AP-2) is a transcription factor known to play a crucial role in the progression of malignant melanoma, colorectal carcinoma, and breast cancer. Several AP-2 target genes are known to be deregulated in prostate cancer, therefore, we hypothesize that loss AP-2 expression plays a causal role in prostate carcinogenesis. Immunofluorescent staining for AP-2 of 30 radical prostatectomy specimens demonstrated that while AP-2 was highly expressed in normal prostate epithelium, its expression was lost in most cases of high grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), and all cases of prostate cancer studied. Additional analyses demonstrated that AP-2 was associated with normal luminal differentiation and it was not expressed in the basal cell layer. In cell lines, AP-2 was strongly expressed in immortalized normal prostate epithelial cells, whereas low expression was observed in the LNCaP, LNCaP-LN3, and PC3M-LN4 prostate cancer cell lines. Transfection of the highly tumorigenic and metastatic cell line PC3M-LN4 with the AP-2 gene significantly decreased tumor growth in the prostate of nude mice (p = 0.032) and inhibited metastases to the lymph nodes. Moreover, transfection of the low tumorigenic, low metastatic cell line LNCaP-LN3 with full length AP-2; resulted in complete inhibition of tumor incidence in the AP-2 transfectants (0/19) vs. neo control (10/16). A potential mechanism for this loss of tumorigenicity was the modulation of gene expression in prostate cancer cells that mimicked the normal phenotype. Analysis of differential expression between neo control- and AP-2-transfected cells in vitro and in tumors demonstrated low VEGF expression in AP-2 transfectants. We further demonstrated that AP-2 acted as a transcriptional repressor of the VEGF promoter by binding to a GC-rich region located between −88 and −66. This region contains an AP-2 consensus element overlapping two Sp1 consensus elements. We found that Sp3 and AP-2 bound to this region in a mutually exclusive manner to promote activation or repression. Increased VEGF expression has been observed in high grade PIN and in prostate cancer. Here we provide evidence that this early molecular change could be a result of loss of AP-2 expression in the prostatic epithelium.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Ruiz Vega, Maribelis, "Role of the transcription factor activator protein-2α in prostate carcinogenesis" (2003). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3081469.