Determine the Microphthalmia Transcription Factor (MITF)-regulated cell rewiring mechanisms in lethal prostate cancer

  • Domingo-Domenech, Josep (PI)
  • Domingo-domenech, Josep Maria (CoPI)

Project Details


Once prostate cancer progresses to an advanced castration resistant stage it becomes an incurable deadly disease. To date the understanding of the intrinsic tumor cell biology processes involved in the pathobiology of lethal prostate cancer remains limited. Our research proposal aims to elucidate actionable molecular mechanisms that sustain the aggressiveness of lethal tumors by using clinically significant human prostate cancer models. Work from our laboratory and others have revealed that master regulator transcription factors regulate actionable mechanisms that dynamically reprogram the cancer cell by regulating the expression of key nuclear growth factor receptors of prostate cancer such as the Androgen receptor. Through the comprehensive analysis of human transcriptomic prostate cancer public databases that include primary and metastatic tissue samples, coupled with in vitro and in vivo patient derived experimental models, we have identified transcriptionally regulating mechanisms associated with the pathobiology of lethal prostate cancer. Most relevant to this proposal, our studies point to a key role of the Microphthalmia Transcription Factor (MITF) in advanced lethal prostate cancer. Low MITF levels are associated with lethal prostate cancer and disease relapse in primary prostate cancer patients. Notably, functional studies suggest that in prostate cancer MITF regulates the growth and confers resistance to androgen deprivation therapy by controlling a distinct clinically relevant gene network. Indeed, computational studies suggest that MITF regulates the protein synthesis of specific key oncoproteins and prostate specific growth factors, such as MYC and AR. Thus, based on these results, we hypothesize that MITF contributes to the pathogenesis of lethal prostate cancer by regulating both transcriptional and translational mechanisms that reprogram the cancer cell into a therapy resistant lethal state. We will investigate this hypothesis as follows: In aim 1 we will explore the MITF regulated transcriptional mechanisms associated with lethal prostate cancer, focusing on distinct MITF isoforms to delineate their individual functions, as well as determine the clinically relevant MITF regulated downstream effector genes. In aim 2 we will examine how MITF regulates protein synthesis, focusing on specific translation initiation subunits to determine their function in regulating the translation of specific mRNAs, as well as regulatory crosstalk between MITF and MYC. Finally, in aim 3 we will study the clinical relevance of these findings in circulating tumor cells from lethal prostate cancer patients along with testing the in vivo efficacy in preclinical models of targeting protein synthesis together with androgen deprivation therapy as a combined therapeutic strategy to delay the development of castration resistance in low MITF prostate tumors. Ultimately, these studies are poised to broaden our understanding of how master regulator transcription factors govern an intricate complex signaling network that rewires the cancer cell, in this case through regulation of translation, which may offer novel druggable therapeutic opportunities for prostate cancer patients.
Effective start/end date1/07/2130/06/23


  • National Cancer Institute: $348,785.00
  • National Cancer Institute: $441,948.00


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