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Mol Endocrinol. 1990 Dec;4(12):2003-13.

Ductal heterogeneity of cytokeratins, gene expression, and cell death in the rat ventral prostate.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The rat ventral prostate is a complex gland composed of numerous ducts. The epithelial cells that line the lumen of the ducts are surrounded by stromal cells. The epithelial cells display a characteristic morphology that is dependent on their anatomical location within the ducts; the cells that line the lumen in the region of the ducts close to the urethra (the proximal region) are cuboidal, while those in the distal regions of the ducts are tall columnar cells. We have examined the regional expression of two genes that are expressed in the prostate: prostate steroid-binding protein (PSBP; a marker for androgen-dependent protein synthesis) and TRPM-2 (a marker for programmed cell death). We have demonstrated that the expression of PSBP, in the presence of androgens, and TRPM-2, in the absence of androgens, is restricted to the luminal epithelial cells in the distal regions of the prostatic ducts. Neither of the genes is expressed in the proximal regions of the ducts. In view of the probable effects of the epithelial-stromal interactions in the gland we have also characterized the cytokeratin composition of the epithelial cells lining the prostatic ducts. We have established that the basal epithelial cells of the prostate are primarily localized in the proximal region of the ducts. We propose that these cells may attenuate the influence of the stromal cells on the luminal epithelium and exert a negative influence on the cytodifferentiation of the secretory epithelial cells. The results also suggest that PSBP, which has been considered to be an androgen-dependent gene may, in fact, be a sequence that is constitutively expressed in the luminal cells that die in the absence of androgens. This has significant implications on the mechanism of androgen action in the rat ventral prostate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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