Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Kapil Mehta

Committee Member

Michelle C. Barton

Committee Member

Sankar N. Maity

Committee Member

Nora M. Navone

Committee Member

Zahid H. Siddik


The progression of hormone responsive to hormone refractory prostate cancer poses a major clinical challenge in the successful treatment of prostate cancer. The hormone refractory prostate cancer cells exhibit resistance not only to castrate levels of testosterone, but also to other therapeutic modalities and hence become lethal. Currently, there is no effective treatment available for managing this cancer. These observations underscore the urgency to investigate mechanism(s) that contribute to the progression of hormone-responsive to hormone-refractory prostate cancer and to target them for improved clinical outcomes.

Tissue transglutaminase (TG2) is a multifunctional pro-inflammatory protein involved in diverse physiological processes such as inflammation, tissue repair, and wound healing. Its expression is also implicated in pathological conditions such as cancer and fibrosis. Interestingly, we found that the androgen-independent prostate cancer cell lines, which lacked androgen receptor (AR) expression, contained high basal levels of tissue transglutaminase. Inversely, the cell lines that expressed androgen receptor lacked transglutaminase expression. This attracted our attention to investigate the possible role this protein may play in the progression of prostate cancer, especially in view of recent observations that its expression is linked with increased invasion, metastasis, and drug resistance in multiple cancer cell types. The results we obtained were rather surprising and revealed that stable expression of tissue transglutaminase in androgen-sensitive LNCaP prostate cancer cells rendered these cells independent of androgen for growth and survival by silencing the AR expression. The AR silencing in TG2 expressing cells (TG2-infected LNCaP and PC-3 cells) was due to TG2-induced activation of the inflammatory nuclear transcription factor-kB (NF-kB). Thus, TG2 induced NF-kB was found to directly bind to the AR promoter. Importantly, TG2 protein was specifically recruited to the AR promoter in complex with the p65 subunit of NF-kB. Moreover, TG2 expressing LNCaP and PC-3 cells exhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, as evidenced by gain of mesenchymal (such as fibronectin, vimentin, etc.) and loss of epithelial markers (such as E-cadherin, b-catenin). Taken together, these results suggested a new function for TG2 and revealed a novel mechanism that is responsible for the progression of prostate cancer to the aggressive hormone-refractory phenotype.