The identification of stem cells and differentiation programs regulating the development and maintenance of the normal prostate epithelium is essential for the identification of the cell type(s) and molecular changes involved in the development and propagation of prostate cancer. The p63 gene is selectively expressed in basal cells of various epithelia and is required for epithelial development. p63 has been recently shown to be essential for the proliferative potential of stem cells both in the thymus epithelium and the epidermis. Previous work from our group and others suggests that during normal prostate development, secretory cells derive from p63-positive basal cells, which thus represent progenitor/stem cells. However, the mechanisms underlying the in vivo maintenance of the prostate epithelium during post-natal life remain to be clarified. The suggestion that basal and secretory prostate cells are hierarchically related during development raises the possibility that the renewal of the adult prostate depends on p63-positive basal stem cells. While data from both in vivo and in vitro studies provide support for such a possibility, a contrasting model proposes that adult secretory cells are capable of sustaining their own renewal, without significant contribution from basal stem cells. The experiments proposed in this application are aimed at clarifying the renewal process of the adult prostate epithelium both in physiologic conditions and after cell injury. We will first employ a novel DNA-analog-based lineage tracing method to test whether the adult prostate epithelium contains specialized stem/progenitor cells that repeatedly divide in vivo to give rise to post-mitotic cells (Aim 1). In a parallel and complementary effort, we will perform genetic lineage tracing to determine whether the in vivo development and renewal of the prostate epithelium depends on p63-positive progenitor/stem cells (Aim 2). Finally, we will begin to study the molecular mechanisms of prostate stem cell regulation by testing the hypothesis that p63 plays a central role in modulating prostate stem cell functions (Aim 3). Our proposal will provide extremely valuable knowledge on the way the normal prostate epithelium develops and is renewed in vivo. Such knowledge is absolutely required for the future identification of the cell type(s) and molecular abnormalities involved in prostate cancer development and progression.

Public Health Relevance

The prostate glands are composed of two main types of cells, i.e. basal and secretory cells. It has been proposed that the basal cells give rise to secretory cells and thus represent the stem cells. However, the way the prostate epithelium is maintained is unknown. In this proposal, we plan to establish whether the regeneration of the prostate epithelium in adult life depends on the proliferation of basal stem cells. In addition, we will study the mechanisms regulating stem cell functions. These studies will provide very important knowledge on how normal prostate cells form and differentiate. This knowledge will shed light on the cell of origin of prostate cancer and, therefore, will substantially contribute to the advancement of the prostate cancer field.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Urologic and Kidney Development and Genitourinary Diseases Study Section (UKGD)
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Hoshizaki, Deborah K
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States
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Pignon, Jean-Christophe; Grisanzio, Chiara; Carvo, Ingrid et al. (2015) Cell kinetic studies fail to identify sequentially proliferating progenitors as the major source of epithelial renewal in the adult murine prostate. PLoS One 10:e0128489
Li, Wenliang; Ai, Nanping; Wang, Suming et al. (2014) GRK3 is essential for metastatic cells and promotes prostate tumor progression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:1521-6
Pignon, Jean-Christophe; Grisanzio, Chiara; Geng, Yan et al. (2013) p63-expressing cells are the stem cells of developing prostate, bladder, and colorectal epithelia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:8105-10