Klf4 transcription factor is expressed in the cytoplasm of prostate cancer cells

Eur J Cancer. 2013 Mar;49(4):955-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2012.09.023. Epub 2012 Oct 22.


Background: Cancer initiation and progression might be driven by small populations of cells endowed with stem cell-like properties. Here we comparatively addressed the expression of genes encoding putative stemness regulators including c-Myc, Klf4, Nanog, Oct4A and Sox2 genes in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer (PCA).

Methods: Fifty-eight PCA and thirty-nine BPH tissues samples were used for gene expression analysis, as evaluated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The expression of specific Klf4 isoforms was tested by conventional PCR. Klf4 specific antibodies were used for protein detection in a tissue microarray including 404 prostate samples.

Results: Nanog, Oct4A and Sox2 genes were comparably expressed in BPH and PCA samples, whereas c-Myc and Klf4 genes were expressed to significantly higher extents in PCA than in BPH specimens. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that Klf4 protein is detectable in a large majority of epithelial prostatic cells, irrespective of malignant transformation. However, in PCA, a predominantly cytoplasmic location was observed, consistent with the expression of a differentially spliced Klf4α isoform.

Conclusion: Klf4 is highly expressed at gene and protein level in BPH and PCA tissues but a cytoplasmic location of the specific gene product is predominantly detectable in malignant cells. Klf4 location might be of critical relevance to steer its functions during oncogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / genetics
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3 / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / genetics
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / genetics
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / genetics
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • GKLF protein
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • MYC protein, human
  • NANOG protein, human
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Octamer Transcription Factor-3
  • POU5F1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SOX2 protein, human
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors