The next-generation antiandrogen drugs such as enzalutamide and abiraterone extend survival times and improve quality of life in patients with advanced prostate cancer. However, resistance to both drugs occurs frequently through mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Wnt signaling, particularly through Wnt5a, plays vital roles in promoting prostate cancer progression and induction of resistance to enzalutamide and abiraterone. Development of novel strategies targeting Wnt5a to overcome resistance is an urgent need. In this study, we demonstrated that Wnt5a/FZD2-mediated noncanonical Wnt pathway is overexpressed in enzalutamide-resistant prostate cancer. In patient databases, both the levels of Wnt5a and FZD2 expression are upregulated upon the development of enzalutamide resistance and correlate with higher Gleason score, biochemical recurrence, and metastatic status, and with shortened disease-free survival duration. Blocking Wnt5a/FZD2 signal transduction not only diminished the activation of noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway, but also suppressed the constitutively activated androgen receptor (AR) and AR variants. Furthermore, we developed a novel bioengineered BERA-Wnt5a siRNA construct and demonstrated that inhibition of Wnt5a expression by the BERA-Wnt5a siRNA significantly suppressed tumor growth and enhanced enzalutamide treatment in vivo. These results indicate that Wnt5a/FZD2 signal pathway plays a critical role in promoting enzalutamide resistance, and targeting this pathway by BERA-Wnt5a siRNA can be developed as a potential therapy to treat advanced prostate cancer.

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