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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of novel small molecule inhibitor of androgen receptor to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer Yang, Yu Chi (Kevin)


Androgen receptor (AR), a transcription factor, is a validated therapeutic target for prostate cancer. All current AR-targeting therapies inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells by blocking the ligand-binding domain (LBD), where androgen binds to activate the receptor. Unfortunately, these therapies fail to maintain a durable clinical effectiveness, as patients eventually succumb to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The clinical onset and progression of most CRPC is accompanied by rising levels of serum prostate specific antigen (PSA), a gene transcriptionally regulated by AR. This indicates aberrant AR transcriptional activity is involved in driving CRPC and conferring therapy-resistance. Therefore, it is imperative to continue the research and development of novel AR inhibitors that can overcome molecular mechanisms underlying aberrant AR transcriptional activity. This dissertation presents three research projects: 1) Discovery of novel AR inhibitors; 2) Evaluation of EPI-002, an AR N-terminal domain (NTD) antagonist; and 3) Generation of a prostate cancer cell line model with resistance to EPI-002. To discover novel AR inhibitors, candidate compounds identified from high throughput screening were characterized by fluorescent ligand binding assays, AR-driven reporter assays, qPCR gene expression analyses, and proliferation assays. AR NTD inhibitor EPI-002 was evaluated against several mechanisms believed to cause aberrant AR transcriptional activity, including coactivator overexpression, AR gain-of-function mutations, and constitutively active AR splice variants with truncated LBD. To generate a prostate cancer cell line model that developed resistance to EPI-002, LNCaP human prostate cancer cells were cultured under chronic EPI-002 exposure. First, spongian diterpenoids were discovered as novel antiandrogens that bind to the AR LBD. The diterpenoids blocked androgen-dependent AR transcriptional activity with a structure-activity relationship, reduced androgen-regulated gene expression, and inhibited the proliferation of androgen-sensitive prostate cancer cells. Secondly, EPI-002 was effective against aberrant AR transcriptional activity caused by overexpressed coactivators; AR gain-of-function mutations; and constitutively active AR splice variants such as AR-V7. Importantly, EPI-002 inhibited the growth of CRPC cells driven by AR-V7, whereas antiandrogens had no effect. Finally, a human prostate cancer cell line model resistant to growth inhibition by EPI-002 was generated, allowing future studies to investigate mechanisms of resistance against AR inhibition through the NTD.

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