Rapamycin inhibits AR signaling pathway in prostate cancer by interacting with the FK1 domain of FKBP51

Jing Zhang, Dan Wu, Yongxing He, Lanlan Li, Shanhui Liu, Jianzhong Lu, Huiming Gui, Yuhan Wang, Yan Tao, Hanzhang Wang, Dharam Kaushik, Ronald Rodriguez, Zhiping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Reactivation of the androgen receptor signaling pathway in the emasculated environment is the main reason for the occurrence of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). The immunophilin FKBP51, as a co-chaperone protein, together with Hsp90 help the correct folding of AR. Rapamycin is a known small-molecule inhibitor of FKBP51, but its effect on the FKBP51/AR signaling pathway is not clear. In this study, the interaction mechanism between FKBP51 and rapamycin was investigated using steady-state fluorescence quenching, X-ray crystallization, MTT assay, and qRT-PCR. Steady-state fluorescence quenching assay showed that rapamycin could interact with FKBP51. The crystal of the rapamycin-FKBP51 complex indicated that rapamycin occupies the hydrophobic binding pocket of FK1 domain which is vital for AR activity. The residues involving rapamycin binding are mainly hydrophobic and may overlap with the AR interaction site. Further assays showed that rapamycin could inhibit the androgen-dependent growth of human prostate cancer cells by down-regulating the expression levels of AR activated downstream genes. Taken together, our study demonstrates that rapamycin suppresses AR signaling pathway by interfering with the interaction between AR and FKBP51. The results of this study not only can provide useful information about the interaction mechanism between rapamycin and FKBP51, but also can provide new clues for the treatment of prostate cancer and castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100778
JournalBiochemistry and Biophysics Reports
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Androgen receptor
  • FKBP51
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rapamycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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