Cancer dormancy refers to the prolonged clinical disease-free time between removal of the primary tumor and recurrence, which is common in prostate cancer (PCa), breast cancer, esophageal cancer, and other cancers. PCa disseminated tumor cells (DTC) are detected in both patients with no evidence of disease (NED) and advanced disease (ADV). However, the molecular and cellular nature of DTC is unknown. We performed a first-in-field study of single DTC transcriptomic analyses in cancer patients to identify a molecular signature associated with cancer dormancy. We profiled eighty-five individual EpCAM+/CD45- cells from the bone marrow of PCa patients with NED or ADV. We analyzed 44 DTC with high prostate-epithelial signatures, and eliminated 41 cells with high erythroid signatures and low prostate epithelial signatures. DTC were clustered into 3 groups: NED, ADV_1, and ADV_2, in which the ADV_1 group presented a distinct gene expression pattern associated with the p38 stress activated kinase pathway. Additionally, DTC from the NED group were enriched for a tumor dormancy signature associated with head and neck squamous carcinoma and breast cancer. This study provides the first clinical evidence of the p38 pathway as a potential biomarker for early recurrence and an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.
Approximately 90 % of patients who die of prostate cancer (PCa) have bone metastases, often promoting osteoblastic lesions. We observed that 88 % of castration-resistant PCa (CRPC) bone metastases express prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), a soluble secreted protein expressed by prostate epithelial cells in predominately osteoblastic (n = 18) or osteolytic (n = 15) lesions. Additionally, conditioned media (CM) of an osteoblastic PCa xenograft LuCaP 23.1 contained significant levels of PAP and promoted mineralization in mouse and human calvaria-derived cells (MC3T3-E1 and HCO). To demonstrate that PAP promotes mineralization, we stimulated MC3T3-E1 cells with PAP and observed increased mineralization, which could be blocked with the specific PAP inhibitor, phosphonic acid. Furthermore, the mineralization promoted by LuCaP 23.1 CM was also blocked by phosphonic acid, suggesting PAP is responsible for the mineralization promoting activity of LuCaP 23.1. In addition, gene expression arrays comparing osteoblastic to osteolytic CRPC (n = 14) identified betacellulin (BTC) as a gene upregulated during the osteoblastic response in osteoblasts during new bone formation. Moreover, BTC levels were increased in bone marrow stromal cells in response to LuCaP 23.1 CM in vitro. Because new bone formation does occur in osteoblastic and can occur in osteolytic CRPC bone metastases, we confirmed by immunohistochemistry (n = 36) that BTC was highly expressed in osteoblasts involved in new bone formation occurring in both osteoblastic and osteolytic sites. These studies suggest a role for PAP in promoting the osteoblastic reaction in CRPC bone metastases and identify BTC as a novel downstream protein expressed in osteoblasts during new bone formation.
The ability to interrogate circulating tumor cells (CTC) and disseminated tumor cells (DTC) is restricted by the small number detected and isolated (typically <10). To determine if a commercially available technology could provide a transcriptomic profile of a single prostate cancer (PCa) cell, we clonally selected and cultured a single passage of cell cycle synchronized C4-2B PCa cells. Ten sets of single, 5-, or 10-cells were isolated using a micromanipulator under direct visualization with an inverted microscope. Additionally, two groups of 10 individual DTC, each isolated from bone marrow of 2 patients with metastatic PCa were obtained. RNA was amplified using the WT-Ovation™ One-Direct Amplification System. The amplified material was hybridized on a 44K Whole Human Gene Expression Microarray. A high stringency threshold, a mean Alexa Fluor® 3 signal intensity above 300, was used for gene detection. Relative expression levels were validated for select genes using real-time PCR (RT-qPCR).
Approximately 90% of patients who die of Prostate Cancer (PCa) have bone metastases, which promote a spectrum of osteoblastic, osteolytic or mixed bone responses. Numerous secreted proteins have been reported to promote osteoblastic or osteolytic bone responses. We determined whether previously identified and/or novel proteins were associated with the osteoblastic or osteolytic response in clinical specimens of PCa bone metastases.
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