Androgen receptor activation in glioblastoma can be achieved by ligand-independent signaling through egfr—a potential therapeutic target

Nomi Zalcman, Mijal Gutreiman, Tal Shahar, Michael Weller, Iris Lavon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Androgen receptor (AR) is a ligand-mediated transcription factor that belongs to the superfamily of steroid receptors. AR is overexpressed in most glioblastomas and is a potential therapeutic target. In prostate and breast cancers, AR activation can be achieved also by a ligand-independent signaling through receptor tyrosine kinases such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Considering its major role in glioblastoma, we explored whether EGFR is involved in AR signaling in this tumor. Analysis of mRNA expression in 28 glioblastoma samples with quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction revealed a positive and significant correlation between AR and EGFR mRNA expression levels (R = 0.47, p = 0.0092), which was validated by The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset (n = 671) analysis (R = 0.3, p = 0.00006). Using Western blotting and immunofluorescence staining, we showed that the transduced overexpression of EGFR or its variant EGFRvIII in the U87MG cells induced AR protein overexpression and nuclear translocation and Protein kinase B (AKT) S473 and AR S210/213 phosphorylation. The EGFR kinase inhibitor afatinib and the AKT inhibitor MK2206 reduced AR nuclear translocation. Afatinib diminished AKT phosphorylation at 30 min and 6 h in the EGFR-and EGFRvIII-overexpressing cells, respectively, and decreased AR phosphorylation in EGFR-overexpressing cells at 4 h. Afatinib or MK2206 combination therapy with the AR antagonist enzalutamide in the EGFR and EGFRvIII-overexpressing cells had synergistic efficacy. Our findings suggest that EGFR signaling is involved in AR activation in glioblas-toma and buttresses the concept of combining an EGFR signaling inhibitor with AR antagonists as a potential glioblastoma treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10954
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • AR antagonist
  • Androgen receptor (AR)
  • Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
  • Glioblastoma
  • Protein kinase B (AKT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Androgen receptor activation in glioblastoma can be achieved by ligand-independent signaling through egfr—a potential therapeutic target'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this