Cancer-associated fibroblast-secreted glucosamine alters the androgen biosynthesis program in prostate cancer via HSD3B1 upregulation.

After androgen deprivation, prostate cancer frequently becomes castration resistant (CRPC), with intratumoral androgen production from extragonadal precursors that activate the androgen receptor pathway. 3β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1 (3βHSD1) is the rate-limiting enzyme for extragonadal androgen synthesis, which together lead to CRPC. Here, we show that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) increased epithelial 3βHSD1 expression, induced androgen synthesis, activated the androgen receptor, and induced CRPC. Unbiased metabolomics revealed that CAF-secreted glucosamine specifically induced 3βHSD1. CAFs induced higher GlcNAcylation in cancer cells and elevated expression of the transcription factor Elk1, which induced higher 3βHSD1 expression and activity. Elk1 genetic ablation in cancer epithelial cells suppressed CAF-induced androgen biosynthesis in vivo. In patient samples, multiplex fluorescent imaging showed that tumor cells expressed more 3βHSD1 and Elk1 in CAF-enriched areas compared with CAF-deficient areas. Our findings suggest that CAF-secreted glucosamine increases GlcNAcylation in prostate cancer cells, promoting Elk1-induced HSD3B1 transcription, which upregulates de novo intratumoral androgen synthesis to overcome castration.

The Journal of clinical investigation. 2023 Apr 03*** epublish ***

Di Cui, Jianneng Li, Ziqi Zhu, Michael Berk, Aimalie Hardaway, Jeffrey McManus, Yoon-Mi Chung, Mohammad Alyamani, Shelley Valle, Ritika Tiwari, Bangmin Han, Maryam Goudarzi, Belinda Willard, Nima Sharifi

Genitourinary Malignancies Research Center, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA., Department of Urology, Shanghai General Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China., Metabolomics Shared Laboratory Resource, Lerner Research Institute.