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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Oncotarget

Volume 8, Issue 2, January 2017, Pages 3724-3745.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.12554. Copyright © Impact Journals


Despite aggressive treatment for localized cancer, prostate cancer (PC) remains a leading cause of cancer-related death for American men due to a subset of patients progressing to lethal and incurable metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Organ-confined PC is treated by surgery or radiation with or without androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), while options for locally advanced and disseminated PC include radiation combined with ADT, or systemic treatments including chemotherapy. Progression to CRPC results from failure of ADT, which targets the androgen receptor (AR) signaling axis and inhibits AR-driven proliferation and survival pathways. The exact mechanisms underlying the transition from androgen-dependent PC to CRPC remain incompletely understood. Reactivation of AR has been shown to occur in CRPC despite depletion of circulating androgens by ADT. At the same time, the presence of AR-negative cell populations in CRPC has also been identified. While AR signaling has been proposed as the primary driver of CRPC, AR-independent signaling pathways may represent additional mechanisms underlying CRPC progression. Identification of new therapeutic strategies to target both AR-positive and AR-negative PC cell populations and, thereby, AR-driven as well as non-AR-driven PC cell growth and survival mechanisms would provide a two-pronged approach to eliminate CRPC cells with potential for synthetic lethality. In this review, we provide an overview of AR-dependent and AR-independent molecular mechanisms which drive CRPC, with special emphasis on the role of the Jak2-Stat5a/b signaling pathway in promoting castrate-resistant growth of PC through both AR-dependent and AR-independent mechanisms.

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