Purpose: RNA expression of androgen receptor splice variants may be a biomarker of resistance to novel androgen deprivation therapies in castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). We analytically validated an RNA in situ hybridization (RISH) assay for total AR and AR-V7 for use in formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) prostate tumors. Experimental Design: We used prostate cell lines and xenografts to validate chromogenic RISH to detect RNA containing AR exon 1 (AR-E1, surrogate for total AR RNA species) and cryptic exon 3 (AR-CE3, surrogate for AR-V7 expression). RISH signals were quantified in FFPE primary tumors and CRPC specimens, comparing to known AR and AR-V7 status by immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR. Results: The quantified RISH results correlated significantly with total AR and AR-V7 levels by RT-PCR in cell lines, xenografts and autopsy metastases. Both AR-E1 and AR-CE3 RISH signals were localized in nuclear punctae in addition to the expected cytoplasmic speckles. Compared to admixed benign glands, AR-E1 expression was significantly higher in primary tumor cells with a median fold increase of 3.0 and 1.4 in two independent cohorts (p<0.0001 and p=0.04, respectively). While AR-CE3 expression was detectable in primary prostatic tumors, levels were substantially higher in a subset of CRPC metastases and cell lines, and were correlated with AR-E1 expression. Conclusions: RISH for AR-E1 and AR-CE3 is an analytically valid method to examine total AR and AR-V7 RNA levels in FFPE tissues. Future clinical validation studies are required to determine whether AR RISH is a prognostic or predictive biomarker in specific clinical contexts.
- Received January 26, 2016.
- Revision received April 27, 2016.
- Accepted April 30, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.