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Nature. 2008 Dec 11;456(7223):804-8. doi: 10.1038/nature07427. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

Generation of a prostate from a single adult stem cell.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Genentech, Inc., 1 DNA Way, South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


The existence of prostate stem cells (PSCs) was first postulated from the observation that normal prostate regeneration can occur after repeated cycles of androgen deprivation and replacement in rodents. Given the critical role of PSCs in maintaining prostate tissue integrity and their potential involvement in prostate tumorigenesis, it is important to define specific markers for normal PSCs. Several cell-surface markers have been reported to identify candidate PSCs, including stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1, also known as Ly6a), CD133 (Prom1) and CD44 (refs 3-10). However, many non-PSCs in the mouse prostate also express these markers and thus identification of a more defined PSC population remains elusive. Here we identify CD117 (c-kit, stem cell factor receptor) as a new marker of a rare adult mouse PSC population, and demonstrate that a single stem cell defined by the phenotype Lin(-)Sca-1(+)CD133(+)CD44(+)CD117(+) can generate a prostate after transplantation in vivo. CD117 expression is predominantly localized to the region of the mouse prostate proximal to the urethra and is upregulated after castration-induced prostate involution-two characteristics consistent with that of a PSC marker. CD117(+) PSCs can generate functional, secretion-producing prostates when transplanted in vivo. Moreover, CD117(+) PSCs have long-term self-renewal capacity, as evidenced by serial isolation and transplantation in vivo. Our data establish that single cells in the adult mouse prostate with multipotent, self-renewal capacity are defined by a Lin(-)Sca-1(+)CD133(+)CD44(+)CD117(+) phenotype.

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