BACKGROUND: PAX6, a transcription factor, has currently been suggested to function as a tumor suppressor in glioblastoma and to act as an early differentiation marker for neuroendocrine cells. The androgen receptor (AR) plays a pivotal role in prostate cancer development and progression due to its transcriptional activity in regulating genes involved in cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. To determine the role of PAX6 in prostate cancer, we investigated whether PAX6 interacts with AR to affect prostate cancer development. METHODS: We used immunostaining, RT-PCR, and Western blotting assays to show the expression status of PAX6 in prostate tissue and human prostate cancer cell lines. The role of PAX6 in cell growth and colony regeneration potential of LNCaP cells were evaluated by MTT assay and soft agar assay with PAX6-overexpressed LNCaP cells. Mammalian two-hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation (Co-IP) assays were used to demonstrate the interaction between PAX6 and AR. Reporter gene and Q-RT-PCR assays were performed to determine the effects of PAX6 on the function of AR. RESULTS: In prostate cancer tissues, PAX6 expression was stronger in normal epithelial cells than cancer cells, and decreased in LNCaP cells compared to that of DU145 and PC3 cells. Enforced expression of PAX6 suppressed the cell growth of LNCaP cells and also inhibited the colony formation of LNCaP cells. PAX 6 interacted with AR and repressed its transcriptional activity. PAX6 overexpression decreased the expression of androgen target gene PSA in LNCaP cells. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we found that PAX6 may act as a prostate cancer repressor by interacting with AR and repressing the transcriptional activity and target gene expression of AR to regulate cell growth and regeneration.
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