Kallikrein 4 (hK4) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) are associated with the loss of E-cadherin and an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like effect in prostate cancer cells

T. L. Veveris-Lowe, M. G. Lawrence, R. L. Collard, L. Bui, A. C. Herington, D. L. Nicol, J. A. Clements

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122 Citations (Scopus)


Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and the related kallikrein family of serine proteases are current or emerging biomarkers for prostate cancer detection and progression. Kallikrein 4 (KLL4/hK4) is of particular interest, as KLK4 mRNA has been shown to be elevated in prostate cancer. In this study, we now show that the comparative expression of hK4 protein in prostate cancer tissues, compared with benign glands, is greater than that of PSA and kallikrein 2 (KLK2/hK2), suggesting that hK4 may play an important functional role in prostate cancer progression in addition to its biomarker potential. To examine the roles that hK4, as well as PSA and hK2, play in processes associated with progression, these kallikreins were separately transfected into the PC-3 prostate cancer cell line, and the consequence of their stable transfection was investigated. PC-3 cells expressing hK4 had a decreased growth rate, but no changes in cell proliferation were observed in the cells expressing PSA or hK2. hK4 and PSA, but not hK2, induced a 2.4-fold and 1.7-fold respective increase, in cellular migration, but not invasion, through Matrigel, a synthetic extracellular matrix. We hypothesised that this increase in motility displayed by the hK4 and PSA-expressing PC-3 cells may be related to the observed change in structure in these cells from a typical rounded epithelial-like cell to a spindle-shaped, more mesenchymal-like cell, with compromised adhesion to the culture surface. Thus, the expression of E-cadherin and vimentin, both associated with an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), was investigated. E-cadherin protein was lost and mRNA levels were significantly decreased in PC-3 cells expressing hK4 and PSA (10-fold and 7-fold respectively), suggesting transcriptional repression of E-cadherin, while the expression of vimentin was increased in these cells. The loss of E-cadherin and associated increase in vimentin are indicative of EMT and provides compelling evidence that hK4, in particular, and PSA have a functional role in the progression of prostate cancer through their promotion of tumour cell migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-643
Number of pages13
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

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