Background: The prostate cancer antigen 3 (PCA3/DD3) gene is a highly specific biomarker upregulated in prostate cancer (PCa). In order to understand the importance of PCA3 in PCa we investigated the organization and evolution of the PCA3 gene locus.
Methods/principal findings: We have employed cDNA synthesis, RTPCR and DNA sequencing to identify 4 new transcription start sites, 4 polyadenylation sites and 2 new differentially spliced exons in an extended form of PCA3. Primers designed from these novel PCA3 exons greatly improve RT-PCR based discrimination between PCa, PCa metastases and BPH specimens. Comparative genomic analyses demonstrated that PCA3 has only recently evolved in an anti-sense orientation within a second gene, BMCC1/PRUNE2. BMCC1 has been shown previously to interact with RhoA and RhoC, determinants of cellular transformation and metastasis, respectively. Using RT-PCR we demonstrated that the longer BMCC1-1 isoform - like PCA3 - is upregulated in PCa tissues and metastases and in PCa cell lines. Furthermore PCA3 and BMCC1-1 levels are responsive to dihydrotestosterone treatment.
Conclusions/significance: Upregulation of two new PCA3 isoforms in PCa tissues improves discrimination between PCa and BPH. The functional relevance of this specificity is now of particular interest given PCA3's overlapping association with a second gene BMCC1, a regulator of Rho signalling. Upregulation of PCA3 and BMCC1 in PCa has potential for improved diagnosis.