ABSTRACT: Notch expression is frequently associated with progenitor cells, and its function is crucial for development. Our recent work showing that Notch1 is selectively expressed in basal epithelial cells of the prostate and higher Notch1 expression during development suggests that Notch1-expressing cells may define progenitor cells in the prostate. To test this hypothesis, we have generated a transgenic mouse line in which the Notch1-expressing cells can be ablated in a controlled manner. Specific targeting was achieved by expressing the bacterial nitroreductase, an enzyme that catalyzes its substrate into a cytotoxin capable of inducing apoptosis, under the Notch1 promoter. Cell death in transgenic prostate was confirmed by histological analyses including terminal dUTP nick-end labeling and caspase 3 immunocytochemical staining. We evaluated the consequences of ablation of Notch1-expressing cells in two systems, organ culture of early postnatal prostates and re-growth of prostate in castrated mice triggered by hormone replacement. Our data show that elimination of Notch1-expressing cells inhibited the branching morphogenesis, growth, and differentiation of early postnatal prostate in culture and impaired prostate re-growth triggered by hormone replacement in castrated mice. Furthermore, we found that Notch1 expression following castration and hormone replacement was concomitant with known basal cell markers p63 and cytokeratin 14 and was high in the proliferative human prostate epithelial cells. Taken together, these data suggest that Notch1-expressing cells define the progenitor cells in the prostatic epithelial cell lineage, which are indispensable for prostatic development and re-growth.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2004; 279(23):24733-44. · 4.77 Impact Factor