Prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) expression increases with prostate cancer grade and progression; however, the role of PSMA in prostate cancer progression remains poorly understood. Telomere stability is essential for the survival and genome stability of cancer cells. We found massive telomere DNA damage in PSMA-negative prostate cancer cells (PC-3 and DU145) compared with PSMA-positive prostate cancer (LNCaP) cells. The ectopic expression of PSMA suppressed telomere DNA damage in PC3 cells. PSMA inhibitor, 2-PMPA, and PSMA knockdown induced telomere DNA damage in PSMA-positive LNCaP cells but not in PSMA-negative PC-3 cells, suggesting that PSMA plays a critical role in telomere stability in prostate cancer cells. In addition, we observed that inhibition of PSMA or inhibition of glutamate receptor, which mediates PSMA-dependent activation of AKT, suppressed AKT phosphorylation, and caused telomere DNA damage. Furthermore, 2-PMPA-induced telomere DNA damage in LNCaP cells was associated with telomere aberrations, such as telomere–telomere fusions, sister–chromatid telomere fusions, and telomere breakages. AKT is reported to promote cell growth by stabilizing telomere association with telomere-binding proteins TRF1 and TPP1. We observed that TRF1 and TPP1 transfection of LNCaP cells attenuated the inhibitory effect of 2-PMPA on cell growth and telomere DNA damage. Together, these observations indicate that PSMA role in maintaining telomere stability in prostate cancer cells is mediated by AKT. Thus, these studies reveal an important role of PSMA in maintaining telomere stability that can promote cell survival and, thereby, prostate cancer progression.
Role of PSMA in telomere stability suggests a strong correlation between PSMA expression and prostate cancer progression.