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Am J Clin Exp Urol. 2019 Jun 15;7(3):123-138. eCollection 2019.

Single-cell RNA-Seq analysis identifies a putative epithelial stem cell population in human primary prostate cells in monolayer and organoid culture conditions.

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Department of Pathology, University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago 60612, Illinois, USA.
Committee on Development, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology (DRSB), University of Chicago Chicago 60637, Illinois, USA.
University of Illinois Cancer Center Chicago 60612, Illinois, USA.


Human primary prostate epithelial (PrE) cells represent patient-derived in vitro models and are traditionally grown as a monolayer in two-dimensional culture. It has been recently demonstrated that expansion of primary cells into three-dimensional prostatic organoids better mimics prostate epithelial glands by recapitulating epithelial differentiation and cell polarity. Here, we sought to identify cell populations present in monolayer PrE cells and organoid culture, grown from the same patient, using single-cell RNA-sequencing. Single-cell RNA-sequencing is a powerful tool to analyze transcriptome profiles of thousands of individual cells simultaneously, creating an in-depth atlas of cell populations within a sample. Organoids consisted of six distinct cell clusters (populations) of intermediate differentiation compared to only three clusters in the monolayer prostate epithelial cells. Integrated analysis of the datasets allowed for direct comparison of the monolayer and organoid samples and identified 10 clusters, including a distinct putative prostate stem cell population that was high in Keratin 13 (KRT13), Lymphocyte Antigen 6D (LY6D), and Prostate Stem Cell Antigen (PSCA). Many of the genes within the clusters were validated through RT-qPCR and immunofluorescence in PrE samples from 5 additional patients. KRT13+ cells were observed in discrete areas of the parent tissue and organoids. Pathway analyses and lack of EdU incorporation corroborated a stem-like phenotype based on the gene expression and quiescent state of the KRT13+ cluster. Other clusters within the samples were similar to epithelial populations reported within patient prostate tissues. In summary, these data show that the epithelial stem population is preserved in PrE cultures, with organoids uniquely expanding intermediate cell types not present in monolayer culture.


10X Genomics; 3D culture; Prostate; immunofluorescent staining; ingenuity pathway analysis; organoid; primary cell culture; single-cell RNA sequencing


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