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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 30;105(52):20882-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0811411106. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Trop2 identifies a subpopulation of murine and human prostate basal cells with stem cell characteristics.

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Molecular Biology Institute, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The epithelium of the adult prostate contains 3 distinct cell types: basal, luminal, and neuroendocrine. Tissue-regenerative activity has been identified predominantly from the basal cells, isolated by expression of CD49f and stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1). An important question for the field is whether all basal cells have stem cell characteristics. Prostate-specific microarray databases were interrogated to find candidate surface antigens that could subfractionate the basal cell population. Tumor-associated calcium signal transducer 2 (TACSTD2/Trop2/M1S1/GA733-1) was identified because it was enriched after castration, in prostate sphere cells and in the basal fraction. In the murine prostate, Trop2 shows progenitor characteristics such as localization to the region of the gland proximal to the urethra and enrichment for sphere-forming and colony-forming cells. Trop2 subfractionates the basal cells into 2 populations, both of which express characteristic basal cell markers by quantitative PCR. However, only the basal cells expressing high levels of Trop2 were able to efficiently form spheres in vitro. In the human prostate, where Sca-1 is not expressed, sphere-forming progenitor cells were also isolated based on high expression of Trop2 and CD49f. Trop2-expressing murine basal cells could regenerate prostatic tubules in vivo, whereas the remaining basal cells had minimal activity. Evidence was found for basal, luminal, and neuroendocrine cells in prostatic tubules regenerated from Trop2(hi) basal cells. In summary, functionally distinct populations of cells exist within the prostate basal compartment and an epithelial progenitor can give rise to neuroendocrine cells in vivo.

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