Background: Promoter elements within the 5' DNA region of the rat C(3)1 gene have been shown to direct prostate-specific expression of gene products when they are fused through recombinant DNA procedures and used to produce transgenic mice. In order to test the in vivo effects of chronic overexpression of the mouse c-myc protooncogene on the prostate glands of transgenic mice, we created several lines of C(3)1-c-myc transgenic mice and then examined the phenotype of males with this genetic alteration.
Methods: The modified promoter and 5' region of the rat C(3)1 gene was fused to the coding region of the mouse c-myc gene using recombinant DNA techniques. This DNA was used to create three different founder lines of transgenic mice. Tissues from males and females heterozygous for the transgene were examined for expression of the recombinant mouse c-myc mRNA by an RNase protection assay. Prostates from males were examined for expression of recombinant c-myc mRNA by in situ hybridization. Thin sections of fixed ventral prostates from males were analyzed by microscopy for histological abnormalities.
Results: Three different lines of transgenic mice were obtained from these procedures. These mice demonstrated expression of recombinant mouse c-myc mRNA in the testis and ventral prostates of males and in the uterus of females. In situ hybridization demonstrated that the epithelial cells were the source of recombinant c-myc expression in the ventral prostates of the transgenic lines. Microscopic analysis of the ventral prostates from these mice demonstrated abnormalities in epithelial cell morphology seemingly typical of an intraepithelial neoplasia-like phenotype. However, none of the males of any of the lines developed overt prostatic adenocarcinoma over their lifetimes.
Conclusions: Chronic overexpression of c-myc in the ventral prostate epithelial cells of C3(1)-c-myc transgenic mice leads to the development of epithelial cell abnormalities similar to those seen in low-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia in humans. These abnormalities were not found to progress to adenocarcinoma over the lifetimes of the transgenic mice, suggesting the need for additional oncogenic changes in the pathway to prostatic adenocarcinomas. Furthermore, our cumulative experience with the use of the C3(1) gene promoter in the generation of transgenic mice suggests that the probasin promoter element provides a much more specific and effective means to target transgenes to the prostate glands of mice.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.