The transcription factor c-Fos controls many important cellular processes, including cell growth and apoptosis. c-Fos expression is rapidly elevated in the prostate upon castration-mediated androgen withdrawal through an undefined mechanism. Here we show that androgens (5α-dihydrotestosterone and R1881) suppress c-Fos protein and mRNA expression induced by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or EGF in human prostate cancer (PCa) cell lines. Such suppression transpires through a transcriptional mechanism, predominantly at the proximal serum response element of the c-fos promoter. We show that androgen signaling suppresses TPA-induced c-Fos expression through repressing a PKC/MEK/ERK/ELK-1 signaling pathway. Moreover, our results support the hypothesis that p38MAPK, PI3K, and PKCδ are involved in the androgenic regulation of c-Fos through controlling MEK/ERK. Stable silencing of c-Fos and PKCδ with shRNAs suggests that R1881 promotes cell death induced by low-dose TPA through a mechanism that is dependent on both PKCδ and loss of c-Fos expression. Reciprocally, loss of either PKCδ or c-Fos activates p38MAPK while suppressing the activation of ERK1/2. We also provide the first demonstration that R1881 permits cell death induced by low-dose TPA in the LNCaP androgen-dependent PCa cell line and that TPA-induced cell death is independent of exogenous androgen in the castration-resistant variants of LNCaP, C4-2 and C4-2B. Acquisition of androgen-independent killing by TPA correlates with activation of p38MAPK, suppression of ERK1/2, and loss of c-Fos. These results provide new insights into androgenic control of c-Fos and use of PKC inhibitors in PCa therapy.
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