Integrating differentiation and cancer: the Nkx3.1 homeobox gene in prostate organogenesis and carcinogenesis

Differentiation. 2008 Jul;76(6):717-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-0436.2008.00292.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


Several tissue-specific regulatory genes have been found to play essential roles in both organogenesis and carcinogenesis. In the prostate, the Nkx3.1 homeobox gene plays an important role in normal differentiation of the prostatic epithelium while its loss of function is an initiating event in prostate carcinogenesis in both mouse models and human patients. Thus, the Nkx3.1 homeobox gene provides a paradigm for understanding the relationship between normal differentiation and cancer, as well as studying the roles of homeobox genes in these processes. Here, we review recent findings concerning the roles of Nkx3.1 in development and discuss how its normal function is disrupted in processes of early prostate carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Prostate / growth & development
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • NKX3-1 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors