Following castration, the transgenic adenocarcinoma of mouse prostate (TRAMP) model demonstrates rapid development of SV40-Tag-driven poorly differentiated tumors that express neuroendocrine cell markers. The cell population dynamics within the prostates of castrated TRAMP mice were characterized by analyzing the incorporation of 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdUrd) and the expression of SV40-Tag, synaptophysin, and androgen receptor (AR). Fourteen days postcastration, the remaining epithelial cells and adenocarcinoma cells were nonproliferative and lacked detectable SV40-Tag or synaptophysin expression. In contrast, morphologically distinct intraglandular foci were identified which expressed SV40-Tag, synaptophysin, and Ki67, but that lacked AR expression. These proliferative SV40-Tag and synaptophysin-expressing intraglandular foci were associated with the rare BrdUrd-retaining cells. These foci expanded rapidly in the postcastration prostate environment, in contrast to the AR- and SV40-Tag-expressing adenocarcinoma cells that lost SV40-Tag expression and underwent apoptosis after castration. Intraglandular foci of synaptophysin-expressing cells were also observed in the prostates of intact TRAMP mice at a comparable frequency; however, they did not progress to rapidly expanding tumors until much later in the life of the mice. This suggests that the foci of neuroendocrine-like cells that express SV40-Tag and synaptophysin, but lack AR, arise independent of androgen-deprivation and represent the source of the poorly differentiated tumors that are the lethal phenotype in the TRAMP model.
Keywords: Prostate cancer; TRAMP; androgen-insensitive; neuroendocrine; synaptophysin.