Catechol-estrogens can cause genetic mutations and to counteract their oncogenicity, the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene is capable of neutralizing these reactive compounds. In this study, we determined the functional effects and regulation of COMT in prostate cancer. Both the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and immunohistochemical analysis of clinical specimens demonstrated a reduction of COMT expression in prostate cancer. Also, western analyses of prostate cancer cell lines show COMT levels to be minimal in DuPro and DU145 and thus, these cells were used for further analyses. Re-expression of COMT led to suppressed migration ability (wound healing assay) and enhanced apoptosis (flow cytometric analyses), and when challenged with 4-hydroxyestradiol, a marked reduction of cell proliferation (MTT assay) was observed. Xenograft growth in athymic mice also resulted in inhibition due to COMT. As a mechanism, western analyses show cleaved CASP3 and BID were increased whereas XIAP and cIAP2 were reduced due to COMT. As COMT expression is low in prostate cancer, its regulation was determined. Databases identified several miRNAs capable of binding COMT and of these, miR-195 was observed to be increased in prostate cancer according to TCGA. Real-time PCR validated upregulation of miR-195 in clinical prostate cancer specimens as well as DuPro and DU145 and interestingly, luciferase reporter showed miR-195 capable of binding COMT and overexpressing miR-195 could reduce COMT in cells. These results demonstrate COMT to play a protective role by activating the apoptosis pathway and for miR-195 to regulate its expression. COMT may thus be a potential biomarker and gene of interest for therapeutic development for prostate cancer.
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