FOXA1 regulates ribosomal RNA transcription in prostate cancer.

Ribosome biogenesis is excessively activated in tumor cells, yet it is little known whether oncogenic transcription factors (TFs) are involved in the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) transactivation.

Nucleolar proteomics data and large-scale immunofluorescence were re-analyzed to jointly identify the proteins localized at nucleolus. RNA-Seq data of five prostate cancer (PCa) cohorts were combined and integrated with multi-dimensional data to define the upregulated nucleolar TFs in PCa tissues. Then, ChIP-Seq data of PCa cell lines and two PCa clinical cohorts were re-analyzed to reveal the TF binding patterns at ribosomal DNA (rDNA) repeats. The TF binding at rDNA was validated by ChIP-qPCR. The effect of the TF on rRNA transcription was determined by rDNA luciferase reporter, nascent RNA synthesis, and global protein translation assays.

In this study, we reveal the role of oncogenic TF FOXA1 in regulating rRNA transcription within nucleolar organization regions. By analyzing human TFs in prostate cancer clinical datasets and nucleolar proteomics data, we identified that FOXA1 is partially localized in the nucleolus and correlated with global protein translation. Our extensive FOXA1 ChIP-Seq analysis provides robust evidence of FOXA1 binding across rDNA repeats in prostate cancer cell lines, primary tumors, and castration-resistant variants. Notably, FOXA1 occupancy at rDNA repeats correlates with histone modifications associated with active transcription, namely H3K27ac and H3K4me3. Reducing FOXA1 expression results in decreased transactivation at rDNA, subsequently diminishing global protein synthesis.

Our results suggest FOXA1 regulates aberrant ribosome biogenesis downstream of oncogenic signaling in prostate cancer.

The Prostate. 2024 Apr 17 [Epub ahead of print]

Tianwei Jia, Chenxu Liu, Ping Guo, Yaning Xu, Wenzheng Wang, Xiaoyu Liu, Song Wang, Xianglin Zhang, Haiyang Guo

Department of Clinical Laboratory, the Second Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China.