Background: Inhibitor of differentiation 4 (Id4), a member of the helix-loop-helix family of transcriptional regulators has emerged as a tumor suppressor in prostate cancer. Id4 is expressed in the normal prostate where its expression is also regulated by androgens. In this study we investigated the effect of loss of Id4 (Id4-/-) on adult prostate morphology.
Methods: Histological analysis was performed on prostates from 6-8 weeks old Id4-/-, Id4+/- and Id4+/+ mice. Expression of Id1, Sox9, Myc, androgen receptor, Akt, p-Akt, Pten and Nkx3.1 was investigated by immunohistochemistry. Androgen receptor binding on NKX3.1 promoter was studied by chromatin immuno-precipitation. Id4 was either over-expressed or silenced in prostate cancer cell lines DU145 and LNCaP respectively followed by analysis of PTEN, NKX3.1 and Sox9 expression.
Results: Id4-/- mice had smaller prostates with fewer tubules, smaller tubule diameters and subtle mPIN like lesions. Levels of androgen receptor were similar between wild type and Id4-/- prostate. Decreased NKX3.1 expression was in part due to decreased androgen receptor binding on NKX3.1 promoter in Id4-/- mice. The increase in the expression of Myc, Sox9, Id1, Ki67 and decrease in the expression of PTEN, Akt and phospho-AKT was associated with subtle mPIN like lesions in Id4-/- prostates. Finally, prostate cancer cell line models in which Id4 was either silenced or over-expressed confirmed that Id4 regulates NKX3.1, Sox9 and PTEN.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that loss of Id4 attenuates normal prostate development and promotes hyperplasia/dysplasia with subtle mPIN like lesions characterized by gain of Myc and Id1 and loss of Nkx3.1 and Pten expression. One of the mechanisms by which Id4 may regulate normal prostate development is through regulating androgen receptor binding to respective response elements such as those on NKX3.1 promoter. In spite of these complex alterations, large neoplastic lesions in Id4-/- prostates were not observed suggesting the possibility of mechanisms/pathways such as loss of Akt that could restrain the formation of significant pre-cancerous lesions.