In androgen sensitive LNCaP prostate cancer cells, the proliferation induced by the epidermal growth factor (EGF) involves a cross-talk between the EGF receptor (EGFR) and the androgen receptor (AR). In lung cancer the role of the EGF–EGFR transduction pathway has been documented, whereas androgen activity has received less attention. Here we demonstrate that in LNCaP and A549 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), AR and EGFR are required for either 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) or EGF-stimulated cell growth. Only EGF activated ERK signaling and up-regulated early gene expression, while DHT triggered the expression of classical AR-responsive genes with the exception of the EGF-induced PSA transcript in A549 cells. DHT and EGF up-regulated cyclinD1 (CD1) at both mRNA and protein levels in A549 cells, while in LNCaP cells each mitogen increased only CD1 protein expression. In both cell contexts, CD1 up-regulation was prevented by selective inhibitors as well as by knock-down of either AR or EGFR and also inhibiting p38MAPK and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Interestingly, p38MAPK and mTOR repression prevented the activation of the mTOR target ribosomal p70S6 kinase induced by DHT and EGF, indicating that p38MAPK acts as an upstream mTOR regulator. In addition, the proliferative effects promoted by both DHT and EGF in LNCaP and A549 cancer cells were no longer observed blocking either p38MAPK or mTOR activity. Hence, our data suggest that p38MAPK-dependent activation of the mTOR/CD1 pathway may represent a mechanism through which AR and EGFR cross-talk contributes to prostate and lung cancer progression.
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