Multipotent and unipotent progenitors contribute to prostate postnatal development

Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Nov;14(11):1131-8. doi: 10.1038/ncb2600. Epub 2012 Oct 14.


The prostate is a glandular epithelium composed of basal, luminal and neuroendocrine cells that originate from the urogenital sinus during embryonic development. After birth, the prostate keeps developing until the end of puberty. Here, we used inducible genetic lineage tracing experiments in mice to investigate the cellular hierarchy that governs prostate postnatal development. We found that prostate postnatal development is mediated by basal multipotent stem cells that differentiate into basal, luminal and neuroendocrine cells, as well as by unipotent basal and luminal progenitors. Clonal analysis of basal cells revealed the existence of bipotent and unipotent basal progenitors as well as basal cells already committed to the luminal lineage with intermediate cells co-expressing basal and luminal markers associated with this commitment step. The existence of multipotent basal progenitors during prostate postnatal development contrasts with the distinct pools of unipotent basal and luminal stem cells that mediate adult prostate regeneration. Our results uncover the cellular hierarchy acting during prostate development and will be instrumental in defining the cellular origin and the mechanisms underlying prostate cancer initiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Prostate / cytology*
  • Prostate / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism