Prostate cancer cells that defy treatment and display heightened tumor-generating capacity can be identified by levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) expressed in the tumor cells, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reports in the May 3 edition of Cell Stem Cell.
"Using a new technique, we were able for the first time to separate low-PSA and high-PSA prostate cancer cells. This led to the discovery of a low-PSA population of cancer stem cells that appears to be an important source of castration-resistant prostate cancer," said study senior author Dean Tang, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis.Hormone therapy is used to block production of testosterone, which fuels prostate cancer growth, via either chemical or physical castration. Tumors eventually resist this approach.
This lentiviral reporter system allowed separation of low-PSA and high-PSA cells for the first time, Tang said. A series of experiments uncovered striking differences between them.High-PSA prostate cancer cells:
Express high levels of the androgen receptor, a key to testosterone production, and so are vulnerable to hormonal therapy; and
Produce only identical copies of themselves when they divide.
Can divide into one copy of themselves and one PSA-positive cell during reproduction. The researchers captured this on video microscopy, filming the division of a grey low-PSA cell into one copy of itself and one copy of a vibrantly green PSA-positive cell.
This research was financed by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the Elsa Pardee Foundation, the MD Anderson Cancer Center University Cancer Fund, MD Anderson Center for Cancer Epigenetics, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation RNA Center and MD Anderson's Cancer Center Support Grants.
Scott Merville | EurekAlert!
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