Mitochondria play a central role in cell proliferation, cell signaling and apoptosis. Mitochondria contain their own DNA (mtDNA). mtDNA serves as a determinant of human origin and ethnicity. Human mtDNA is a very small (16,569 bp) genome. The entire protein coding capacity of the mitochondrial genome is dedicated to the production of 13 protein subunits. These 13 proteins constitute various subunits that make up four oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complexes essential for energy (ATP) production and other mitochondrial function. African-American men (AAM) have the highest rate of prostate cancer, develop prostate cancer at an early age, present with a higher tumor grade at time of diagnosis, and have a higher rate of metastasis and mortality than Caucasian American men (CAM). The genetic mechanism(s) underlying this racial diversity in prostate cancer is not well understood. Our studies demonstrate that in AAM reduced mtDNA content plays an important role in prostate carcinogenesis. We measured the mtDNA copy number in white blood cells (WBC) and prostate tumor obtained from AAM and CAM. Our preliminary studies suggest that WBC of both AAM and CAM contained similar amount of mtDNA (copy number). However, when adjusted for age, Gleason grade and PSA (prostate specific antigen) the prostate tumors of AAM contained >6 times less mtDNA than CAM tumors. Our preliminary data suggest that mutations in nuclear gene encoding mitochondrial DNA polymerase gamma (POLG1) induce depletion of mtDNA and increase tumorigenic potential of cancer cells in vitro. These studies suggest that mtDNA homeostasis must play an important role in carcinogenesis. Based on these observations we hypothesize that reduced mtDNA content plays a critical role in prostate tumorigenesis in AAM by significantly altering the mitochondrial OXPHOS.
AIM 1 : Determine whether mutational spectrum of POLG1 in AAM prostate tumors differs from POLG1 mutational spectrum of CAM. Identify distinctive mutations in POLG1 gene in primary prostate tumors of AAM and determine its functional significance on mtDNA depletion, OXPHOS activity and apoptosis.
AIM 2 : Determine the consequences of mutant POLG1 induced depletion of mtDNA on prostate tumorigenesis in vitro and in mouse xenograft model. The proposed development of mtDNA depletion in prostate cells has the significant potential to enhance our understanding of prostate tumorigenesis in the African American population. This proposal addresses the two key objectives of the PAR-09-160 requesting exploratory grants in basic cancer research in cancer health disparities (R21). These objectives include: 1) the development of "new cell culture models/systems designed to investigate cancer disparities" and 2) explores the susceptibility to prostate cancer in African-American men due to "genetic differences" in mtDNA content.
African-American men (AAM) have the highest rate of prostate cancer, develop prostate cancer at an early age, present with a higher tumor grade at time of diagnosis, and have a higher rate of metastasis and mortality than European American men (EAM) (Powell 2007;Williams and Powell 2009). The genetic mechanism(s) underlying this racial diversity in prostate cancer is not well understood (Guo et al 2000). The proposed study will help determine how reduced mtDNA content found in African American men plays an important role in prostate tumorigenicity.