Protein Levels of Anti-Apoptotic Mcl-1 and the Deubiquitinase USP9x Are Cooperatively Upregulated during Prostate Cancer Progression and Limit Response of Prostate Cancer Cells to Radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy constitutes an important therapeutic option for prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer cells often acquire resistance during cancer progression, limiting the cytotoxic effects of radiotherapy. Among factors regulating sensitivity to radiotherapy are members of the Bcl-2 protein family, known to regulate apoptosis at the mitochondrial level. Here, we analyzed the role of anti-apoptotic Mcl-1 and USP9x, a deubiquitinase stabilizing Mcl-1 protein levels, in prostate cancer progression and response to radiotherapy.

Changes in Mcl-1 and USP9x levels during prostate cancer progression were determined by immunohistochemistry. Neutralization of Mcl-1 and USP9x was achieved by siRNA-mediated knockdown. We analyzed Mcl-1 stability after translational inhibition by cycloheximide. Cell death was determined by flow cytometry using an exclusion assay of mitochondrial membrane potential-sensitive dye. Changes in the clonogenic potential were examined by colony formation assay.

Protein levels of Mcl-1 and USP9x increased during prostate cancer progression, and high protein levels correlated with advanced prostate cancer stages. The stability of Mcl-1 reflected Mcl-1 protein levels in LNCaP and PC3 prostate cancer cells. Moreover, radiotherapy itself affected Mcl-1 protein turnover in prostate cancer cells. Particularly in LNCaP cells, the knockdown of USP9x expression reduced Mcl-1 protein levels and increased sensitivity to radiotherapy.

Posttranslational regulation of protein stability was often responsible for high protein levels of Mcl-1. Moreover, we demonstrated that deubiquitinase USP9x as a factor regulating Mcl-1 levels in prostate cancer cells, thus limiting cytotoxic response to radiotherapy.

Cancers. 2023 Apr 26*** epublish ***

Sophia A Hogh-Binder, Diana Klein, Frederik Wolfsperger, Stephan M Huber, Jörg Hennenlotter, Arnulf Stenzl, Justine Rudner

Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Tuebingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Str. 3, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany., Institute for Cell Biology (Cancer Research), University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Virchowstr. 173, 45147 Essen, Germany., Department of Urology, University Hospital Tuebingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Str. 3, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.