Inhibition of the erythropoietin-producing receptor EPHB4 antagonizes androgen receptor overexpression and reduces enzalutamide resistance

Chaohao Li, Nadia A. Lanman, Yifan Kong, Daheng He, Fengyi Mao, Elia Farah, Yanquan Zhang, Jinghui Liu, Chi Wang, Qiou Wei, Xiaoqi Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Prostate cancer (PCa) cells heavily rely on an active androgen receptor (AR) pathway for their survival. Enzalutamide (MDV3100) is a second-generation antiandrogenic drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 to treat patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, emergence of resistance against this drug is inevitable, and it has been a major challenge to develop interventions that help manage enzalutamide-resistant CRPC. Erythropoietin-producing human hepatocellular (Eph) receptors are targeted by ephrin protein ligands and have a broad range of functions. Increasing evidence indicates that this signaling pathway plays an important role in tumorigenesis. Overexpression of EPH receptor B4 (EPHB4) has been observed in multiple types of cancer, being closely associated with proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of tumors. Here, using RNA-Seq analyses of clinical and preclinical samples, along with several biochemical and molecular methods, we report that enzalutamide-resistant PCa requires an active EPHB4 pathway that supports drug resistance of this tumor type. Using a small kinase inhibitor and RNAi-based gene silencing to disrupt EPHB4 activity, we found that these disruptions re-sensitize enzalutamide-resistant PCa to the drug both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we found that EPHB4 stimulates the AR by inducing proto-oncogene c-Myc (c-Myc) expression. Taken together, these results provide critical insight into the mechanism of enzalutamide resistance in PCa, potentially offering a therapeutic avenue for enhancing the efficacy of enzalutamide to better manage this common malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5470-5483
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 17 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Li et al. Published under exclusive license by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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