Background: beta-tubulin, the intracellular target of several antimicrotubule agents, is encoded by at least six genes and exists as multiple isotypes with tissue-specific expression. Previous in vitro studies indicated that tubulin isotype composition may affect polymerization properties, dynamics, and sensitivity to drugs.
Methods: To investigate the isotype composition of beta-tubulin in human prostate, tissues were collected from 26 patients after radical prostatectomy and sections were stained with isotype-specific antibodies.
Results: beta IV tubulin is the predominant isotype in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and adenocarcinoma, showing significantly stronger immunohistochemical expression than beta II and beta III, particularly in Gleason's grade 3 and 4 cancers. Staining for the beta II isotype was invariably weak and often absent in BPH and normal glands. There was a marked increase in beta II isotype stain from BPH to cancer in 77% of the patients, suggesting that the expression of this isotype is related to malignant status.
Conclusions: The beta II tubulin isotype is a potential marker for prostate adenocarcinoma. The possibility that tumor beta-tubulin isotype composition may effect the response to antimicrotubule drug therapy in prostate cancer and other tumors merit investigation.