The prostate basal cell (BC) heterogeneity and the p63-positive BC differentiation spectrum in mice

Dong Kee Lee, Yonghong Liu, Lan Liao, Fen Wang, Jianming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The prostate epithelium is composed of basal (BC), luminal (LEC), and neuroendocrine (NEC) cells. It is unclear how many subtypes of BCs in the prostate and which subtype of BCs contains the main stem cell niche in the adult prostate. Here we report seven BC subpopulations according to their p63, cytokeratin 14 (K14) and K5 expression patterns, including p63-positive/K14-negative/K5-negative (p63+/K14-/K5-), p63-/K14+/K5-, p63-/K14-/K5+, p63+/K14+/K5-, p63+/K14-/K5+, p63-/K14+/K5+, and p63+/K14+/K5+ BCs. We generated a p63-CreERT2 knock-in mouse line that expresses tamoxifen-inducible Cre activity in the p63-expressing cells, including the prostate BCs. We then crossbred this line with ROSA26R mice, and generated p63-CreERT2×ROSA26R bi-genic mice harboring the Cre-activated β-galactosidase reporter gene. We treated these bi-genic mice with tamoxifen to mark the p63+ BCs at different ages or under different hormonal conditions, and then traced the lineage differentiation of these genetically labeled BCs. We discovered that these p63+ BCs contain self-renewable stem cells in culture and efficiently differentiated into LECs, NECs and BCs in the postnatal, adult and re-generating mouse prostates. Therefore, BC population contains heterogeneous BCs that express different combinations of the p63, K14 and K5 differentiation markers. Because K14+ and K5+ BCs were previously shown to be extremely inefficient to produce LECs in adulthood, we propose that the p63+/K5-/K14- subpopulation of BCs contains most stem-like cells, especially in adult animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1017
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 6 2014


  • Basal cell differentiation
  • Lineage tracing
  • Prostate epithelium
  • Stem cell
  • p63

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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