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Cancer Res. 2008 Dec 1;68(23):9703-11. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3084.

The role of CD133 in normal human prostate stem cells and malignant cancer-initiating cells.

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Chemical Therapeutics Program, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, The Brady Urological Institute, and Department of Pathology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21231, USA.


Resolving the specific cell of origin for prostate cancer is critical to define rational targets for therapeutic intervention and requires the isolation and characterization of both normal human prostate stem cells and prostate cancer-initiating cells (CIC). Single epithelial cells from fresh normal human prostate tissue and prostate epithelial cell (PrEC) cultures derived from them were evaluated for the presence of subpopulations expressing stem cell markers and exhibiting stem-like growth characteristics. When epithelial cell suspensions containing cells expressing the stem cell marker CD133+ are inoculated in vivo, regeneration of stratified human prostate glands requires inductive prostate stromal cells. PrEC cultures contain a small subpopulation of CD133+ cells, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting-purified CD133+ PrECs self-renew and regenerate cell populations expressing markers of transit-amplifying cells (DeltaNp63), intermediate cells (prostate stem cell antigen), and neuroendocrine cells (CD56). Using a series of CD133 monoclonal antibodies, attachment and growth of CD133+ PrECs requires surface expression of full-length glycosylated CD133 protein. Within a series of androgen receptor-positive (AR+) human prostate cancer cell lines, CD133+ cells are present at a low frequency, self-renew, express AR, generate phenotypically heterogeneous progeny negative for CD133, and possess an unlimited proliferative capacity, consistent with CD133+ cells being CICs. Unlike normal adult prostate stem cells, prostate CICs are AR+ and do not require functional CD133. This suggests that (a) AR-expressing prostate CICs are derived from a malignantly transformed intermediate cell that acquires "stem-like activity" and not from a malignantly transformed normal stem cell and (b) AR signaling pathways are a therapeutic target for prostate CICs.

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