Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor signaling inhibits development of the prostate gland

A new study published in Development by Assistant Professor Eric Bolton and Research Associate Hyun-Jung Park reveals that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), which signals through activation of RET tyrosine kinase, inhibits androgen-induced development of the mouse prostate gland.

Eric Bolton
Molecular and Integrative Physiology Assistant Professor Eric Bolton. Immunohistochemistry for KRT5, a basal epithelial antigen, and KRT8, a luminal epithelial antigen, shows that luminal epithelial cells are absent from prostate epithelial (PrE) buds of Ret WT urogenital sinuses co-treated with androgen and GDNF compared to those treated with androgen alone. In contrast, luminal epithelial cells are present at PrE buds in DHT-induced Ret KO urogenital sinuses regardless of GDNF exposure. Adapted from Park and Bolton (Development 2017).

The prostate gland is formed from the embryonic urogenital sinus, where the urethra joins the bladder. The androgen receptor (AR) is required for prostate development, and AR signaling acts in concert with other signaling pathways to orchestrate the proliferation and differentiation of mesenchymal and epithelial cells of the developing prostate. Importantly, the disruption of AR-mediated prostate development predisposes humans and rodents to prostate neoplasia by altering the gland’s phenotype early in life.

The study by Park and Bolton demonstrates that RET-mediated GDNF signaling in the mouse urogenital sinus increases proliferation of mesenchymal cells and suppresses androgen-induced proliferation and differentiation of prostate epithelial cells, thereby inhibiting prostate development. The study also establishes novel reciprocal regulatory crosstalk between AR and GDNF signaling in the cellular and molecular mechanism of androgen-induced prostate development. The researchers propose that the reciprocal regulatory crosstalk may serve to balance GDNF-induced proliferation of mesenchymal cells with androgen-induced proliferation and differentiation of prostate epithelial cells, which are mediated by AR signaling in mesenchymal cells. Thus, if the GDNF signaling pathway is not downregulated early in prostate development, elevated levels of GDNF signaling may lead to disruption of AR-mediated prostate development and increased risk for prostate neoplasia.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and the Campus Research Board at the University of Illinois funded this research.

Read the full article here.

August 25, 2017 All News