Background: In order for tumors to grow and proliferate, they must avoid recognition by immune cells and subsequent death by apoptosis. Granzyme B (GrB), a protease located in natural killer cells, initiates apoptosis in target cells. Inhibition of GrB by PI-9, its natural inhibitor, can prevent apoptosis. Here we investigate whether PI-9 protects prostate cancer cells from apoptosis.
Methods: The expression of PI-9 was quantified by qPCR in several prostate cancer cell lines, and GrB activity was tested in each cell line. PI-9 was overexpressed in LNCaP cells, which lack endogenous PI-9. Apoptosis was induced by natural killer cells in LNCaP cells that either contained or lacked PI-9, and the percent cell death was quantified. Lastly, PI-9 levels were examined by qPCR and immunohistochemistry in prostate tumor tissue.
Results: Prostate cancer cell lines that expressed PI-9 could inhibit GrB. Overexpression of PI-9 protected LNCaP cells from natural killer cell-mediated apoptosis. Examination of the levels of PI-9 in tissue from prostate tumors showed that PI-9 could be upregulated in low grade tumors and stochastically dysregulated in high grade tumors. Additionally, PI-9 was found consistently in high grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and atrophic lesions.
Conclusions: These results indicate that overexpression of PI-9 can protect prostate cancer cells from apoptosis, and this effect may occur in human prostate tumors. These findings imply that early prostatic inflammation may trigger this increase in PI-9. This suggests that PI-9 upregulation is needed early in tumor progression, before additional protective mechanisms are in place.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.