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Am J Pathol. 2010 May;176(5):2509-19. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090737. Epub 2010 Mar 26.

Desmosomal plakophilins in the prostate and prostatic adenocarcinomas: implications for diagnosis and tumor progression.

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  • 1Joint Research Division Vascular Biology of the Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ-ZMBH-Alliance), Center for Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), Mannheim, Germany.


The plakophilins, members of the armadillo-repeat family, consist of three different proteins (PKP1-3) that are specifically recruited to desmosomal plaques in a highly cell type-specific manner. Using immunofluorescence, immunoelectron microscopy, and immunoblot, we found that all three plakophilins occurred in luminal and basal cells of the pseudostratified prostate epithelium. The analysis of 135 cases of prostatic adenocarcinomas grouped into tumors with low (Gleason score < or = 6), intermediate (Gleason score 7), and high Gleason score (8 < or = Gleason score < or = 10) showed that the expression of PKP1 was reduced or lost in adenocarcinomas with high Gleason scores. The expression of PKP2 was unchanged in all prostatic adenocarcinomas analyzed. In contrast, PKP3 expression was increased in carcinomas with high Gleason scores in comparison with carcinomas with low Gleason scores. In DU 145 cell lines with either overexpression or knockdown of PKP3, both imbalances resulted in fewer desmosomal cell contacts. In addition, overexpression of PKP3 in DU 145 cells led to an augmentation in proliferation rate. Our data imply that both loss of PKP1 and up-regulation of PKP3 expression are biologically important events in prostate cancer and are associated with a more aggressive phenotype.

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