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The mouse prostate gland is a highly branched tubular organ composed of four distinct lobes: the anterior lobe (also known as the coagulating gland), the dorsal and lateral lobes (collectively referred to as the dorsolateral lobe), and the ventral lobe.1 See More Each lobe is composed of three functionally and morphologically distinct cell types. The predominant cells are the secretory luminal cells which are responsible for secretion of prostatic proteins. This cell type is androgen-dependent and expresses the luminal specific markers cytokeratin (CK) 8 and 18. The second major epithelial cell type is the basal cell, located between the luminal cells and the underlying basement membrane. The basal cell population expresses CK5 and CK14, and is speculated to contain a subset of cells with stem cell-like properties. The third and final prostatic epithelial cell type is the neuroendocrine cell, a minor population occupying the area closest to the basement membrane.1,2 Neuroendocrine cells secrete the neuroendocrine peptides required to support the viability and growth of luminal epithelial cells.1

While the ontogeny of neuroendocrine cells remains unclear, several models have been proposed to describe the hierarchy of luminal and basal epithelia.2-5 In one commonly supported model, differentiation of prostate stem cells leads to development of basal transit amplifying cells (TACs) that in turn produce large numbers of terminally differentiated secretory luminal progeny.2 This hypothesis is supported by the existence of cells with both luminal and basal-specific morphology in fetal and adult tissues and in both in vitro and in vivo systems.3-5


  1. Abate-Shen C, et al. (2000) Genes Dev 14(19): 2410-2434
  2. Lawson DA, et al. (2007) J Clin Invest 117(8): 2044-2050
  3. Wang Y, et al. (2001) Differentiation 68(4-5): 270-279
  4. Xue Y, et al. (1998) Prostate 34(4): 292-301
  5. Van Leenders G, et al. (2000) Lab Invest 80(8): 1251-1258
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