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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Joy Lincoln

Second Committee Member

Vinata Lokeshwar

Third Committee Member

Gennaro D'Urso

Fourth Committee Member

Kerry L. Burnstein

Fifth Committee Member

Wenlong Bai


1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2D3), the most active metabolite of vitamin D, inhibits the proliferation of a variety of cell types including adenocarcinoma of the prostate. The primary mechanism for the antiproliferative effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3 in prostate cancer cells is inhibition of G1 to S phase cell cycle progression. While 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated growth inhibition requires the vitamin D receptor (VDR), a ligand activated transcription factor, expression of functional VDR is not sufficient. To define target genes that might participate in the antiproliferative actions of 1,25-(OH)2D3, we developed a derivative of the human prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, which retains transcriptionally active VDRs but unlike parental LNCaP cells, is not growth inhibited by 1,25-(OH)2D3. Gene expression profiling of these resistant cells (termed VitD.R) compared to control LNCaP cells revealed two novel 1,25-(OH)2D3-inducible genes, GADD45G and MIG6. The expression of GADD45G and MIG6 genes was induced by 1,25-(OH)2D3 in LNCaP but not in the resistant VitD.R or in ALVA31 cells, human prostate cancer cells that exhibit natural resistance to growth inhibition by 1,25-(OH)2D3 despite expression of functional VDR. Ectopic expression of GADD45G but not MIG6 in either LNCaP or ALVA31 cells resulted in accumulation of cells in G1 and inhibition of proliferation equal to or greater than that caused by 1,25-(OH)2D3 treatment. While GADD45G is induced by androgens in prostate cancer cells, up-regulation of GADD45G by 1,25-(OH)2D3 was not dependent on androgen receptor signaling further refuting a requirement for androgens/androgen receptor in vitamin D-mediated growth inhibition in prostate cancer cells. These data introduce two novel 1,25-(OH)2D3-regulated genes and establish GADD45G as a growth inhibitory protein in prostate cancer. Further, defects in vitamin D-mediated induction of GADD45G may underlie vitamin D resistance in prostate cancer cells. We previously demonstrated that the antiproliferative actions of 1,25-(OH)2D3 in prostate cancer cells are associated with decreased CDK2 activity and increased stability of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor (CKI) p27KIP1. We defined a novel mechanism that may underlie these antiproliferative effects, 1,25-(OH)2D3 -mediated cytoplasmic relocalization of CDK2, which would provide a unifying mechanism for the observed effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3 on CDK2 and p27. In the present study, we investigated the role of CDK2 cytoplasmic relocalization in the antiproliferative effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3. CDK2 was found to be necessary for prostate cancer cell proliferation. In contrast, while p27KIP1 is induced by 1,25-(OH)2D3, this CKI was completely dispensable for 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated growth inhibition. Reduction of CDK2 activity by 1,25-(OH)2D3 was associated with decreased T160 phosphorylation, a residue whose phosphorylation in the nucleus is essential for CDK2 activity. Since cyclin E is important for nuclear translocation of CDK2, we investigated cyclin E effects on 1,25D-mediated growth inhibition. Ectopic expression of cyclin E blocked 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated cytoplasmic relocalization of CDK2 and all antiproliferative effects of 1,25-(OH)2D3, yet endogenous levels of cyclin E or binding to CDK2 were not affected by 1,25-(OH)2D3. Similarly, knockdown of the CDK2 substrate retinoblastoma (Rb), which causes cyclin E up-regulation, resulted in resistance to 1,25-(OH)2D3 mediated growth inhibition. VitD.R cells did not exhibit 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated cytoplasmic relocalization of CDK2. Importantly, targeting CDK2 to the nucleus of LNCaP cells blocked G1 accumulation and growth inhibition by 1,25-(OH)2D3. These data establish central roles for CDK2 nuclear-cytoplasmic trafficking and uncoupling of VDR in the regulation of antiproliferative target genes in the mechanisms of 1,25-(OH)2D3-mediated growth inhibition in prostate cancer cells. Since 1,25-(OH)2D3 continues to be evaluated for its chemotherapeutic and chemopreventative potential, elucidating the mechanism of 1,25-(OH)2D3 antiproliferative effects is critical in the determination of 1,25-(OH)2D3 responsiveness and the design of individualized treatment strategies.


Vitamin D; CDK2; GADD45gamma; Prostate Cancer; Cell Cycle