ERG signaling in prostate cancer is driven through PRMT5-dependent methylation of the Androgen Receptor.

PMID 27183006


The TMPRSS2:ERG gene fusion is common in androgen receptor (AR) positive prostate cancers, yet its function remains poorly understood. From a screen for functionally relevant ERG interactors, we identify the arginine methyltransferase PRMT5. ERG recruits PRMT5 to AR-target genes, where PRMT5 methylates AR on arginine 761. This attenuates AR recruitment and transcription of genes expressed in differentiated prostate epithelium. The AR-inhibitory function of PRMT5 is restricted to TMPRSS2:ERG-positive prostate cancer cells. Mutation of this methylation site on AR results in a transcriptionally hyperactive AR, suggesting that the proliferative effects of ERG and PRMT5 are mediated through attenuating AR's ability to induce genes normally involved in lineage differentiation. This provides a rationale for targeting PRMT5 in TMPRSS2:ERG positive prostate cancers. Moreover, methylation of AR at arginine 761 highlights a mechanism for how the ERG oncogene may coax AR towards inducing proliferation versus differentiation.