Understanding the mechanisms underlying resistance is critical to improving therapeutic outcomes in patients with metastatic castration–resistant prostate cancer. Previous work showed that dynamic interconversions between epithelial–mesenchymal transition to mesenchymal–epithelial transition defines the phenotypic landscape of prostate tumors, as a potential driver of the emergence of therapeutic resistance. In this study, we use in vitro and in vivo preclinical MDA PCa patient-derived xenograft models of resistant human prostate cancer to determine molecular mechanisms of cross-resistance between antiandrogen therapy and taxane chemotherapy, underlying the therapeutically resistant phenotype. Transcriptomic profiling revealed that resistant and sensitive prostate cancer C4-2B cells have a unique differential gene signature response to cabazitaxel. Gene pathway analysis showed that sensitive cells exhibit an increase in DNA damage, while resistant cells express genes associated with protein regulation in response to cabazitaxel. The patient-derived xenograft model specimens are from patients who have metastatic lethal castration–resistant prostate cancer, treated with androgen deprivation therapy, antiandrogens, and chemotherapy including second-line taxane chemotherapy, cabazitaxel. Immunohistochemistry revealed high expression of E-cadherin and low expression of vimentin resulting in redifferentiation toward an epithelial phenotype. Furthermore, the mitotic kinesin-related protein involved in microtubule binding and the SLCO1B3 transporter (implicated in cabazitaxel intracellular transport) are associated with resistance in these prostate tumors. Combinational targeting of kinesins (ispinesib) with cabazitaxel was more effective than single monotherapies in inducing cell death in resistant prostate tumors.

Implications: Our findings are of translational significance in identifying kinesin as a novel target of cross-resistance toward enhancing therapeutic vulnerability and improved clinical outcomes in patients with advanced prostate cancer.

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