Human epithelial basal cells are cells of origin of prostate cancer, independent of CD133 status
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Normal prostatic epithelium is composed of basal and luminal cells. Prostate cancer can be initiated in both benign basal and luminal stem cells, but because basal cell markers are not expressed in patient tumors, the former result was unexpected. Since the cells of origin of prostate cancer are important therapeutic targets, we sought to provide further proof that basal stem cells have tumorigenic potential. Prostatic basal cells were enriched based on alpha2beta1integrin(hi) expression and further enriched for stem cells using CD133 in nontumorigenic BPH-1 cells. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were also used as a source of normal stem cells. To test their tumorigenicity, we used two alternate stromal-based approaches; (a) recombination with human cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) or (b) recombination with embryonic stroma (urogenital mesenchyme) and treated host mice with testosterone and 17beta-estradiol. Enriched alpha2beta1integrin(hi) basal cells from BPH-1 cells resulted in malignant tumor formation using both assays of tumorigenicity. Surprisingly, the tumorigenic potential did not reside in the CD133(+) stem cells but was consistently observed in the CD133(-) population. CAFs also failed to induce prostatic tumors from hESCs. These data confirmed that benign human basal cells include cells of origin of prostate cancer and reinforced their importance as therapeutic targets. In addition, our data suggested that the more proliferative CD133(-) basal cells are more susceptible to tumorigenesis compared to the CD133(+) -enriched stem cells. These findings challenge the current dogma that normal stem cells and cells of origin of cancer are the same cell type(s).