Prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer mortality in American men, underscoring the significance of unraveling the molecular mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of the disease. The sex-determining region Y-box 4 (SOX4) gene is overexpressed in many types of human cancers, including prostate cancer, suggesting that SOX4 plays a fundamental role in tumorigenesis. In this study, we demonstrate that SOX4 is critical for PTEN-mediated prostate cancer progression in vivo. We show that homozygous deletion of Sox4 in the adult prostate epithelium strongly inhibits tumor progression initiated by homozygous loss of the Pten tumor suppressor, demonstrating the key role of SOX4 in the development of prostate cancer. Homozygous deletion of Sox4 also reduces the activation of AKT and β-catenin in Pten-null mice, resulting in inhibition of an invasive cancer phenotype. We also show that SOX4 expression is induced by loss of PTEN, and that PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling activity is critical for SOX4 expression, suggesting a positive feedback loop between SOX4 protein and PI3K-AKT-mTOR activity. Our findings indicate that SOX4 is a critical component of the PTEN-PI3K-AKT pathway in prostate cancer, suggesting that SOX4 may be a promising molecular target for novel combinatorial therapies for both primary and advanced prostate cancers.

Citation Format: Birdal Bilir, Adeboye O. Osunkoya, W. Guy Wiles, Soma Sannigrahi, Veronique Lefebvre, Daniel Metzger, Demetri D. Spyropoulos, W. David Martin, Carlos S. Moreno. SOX4 is essential for PTEN-mediated prostate tumorigenesis in vivo. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 2023.