Increased chromatin accessibility drives transition to androgen receptor splice variant dependence in castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Androgen receptor (AR) splice variants, of which ARv7 is the most common, are increased in prostate cancer (PC) that develops resistance to androgen signaling inhibitor drugs, but the extent to which these variants drive AR activity, and whether they have novel functions or dependencies, remain to be determined. We generated a subline of VCaP PC cells (VCaP16) that is resistant to the AR inhibitor enzalutamide (ENZ) and found that AR activity was independent of the full-length AR (ARfl), despite its continued high-level expression, and was instead driven by ARv7. The ARv7 cistrome and transcriptome in VCaP16 cells mirrored that of the ARfl in VCaP cells, although ARv7 chromatin binding was weaker, and strong ARv7 binding sites correlated with higher affinity ARfl binding sites across multiple models and clinical samples. Notably, although ARv7 expression in VCaP cells increased rapidly in response to ENZ, there was a long lag before it gained chromatin binding and transcriptional activity. This lag was associated with an increase in chromatin accessibility, with the AR and nuclear factor I (NFI) motifs being most enriched at these more accessible sites. Moreover, the transcriptional effects of combined NFIB and NFIX knockdown versus ARv7 knockdown were highly correlated. These findings indicate that ARv7 can drive the AR program, but that its activity is dependent on adaptations that increase chromatin accessibility to enhance its intrinsically weak chromatin binding.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology. 2024 Jan 12*** epublish ***

Larysa Poluben, Mannan Nouri, Jiaqian Liang, Andreas Varkaris, Betul Ersoy-Fazlioglu, Olga Voznesensky, Irene I Lee, Xintao Qiu, Laura Cato, Ji-Heui Seo, Matthew L Freedman, Adam G Sowalsky, Nathan A Lack, Eva Corey, Peter S Nelson, Myles Brown, Henry W Long, Steven P Balk, Joshua W Russo