Research Summary: ROCK Inhibitor Y-27632 Suppresses Dissociation-Induced Apoptosis of Murine Prostate Stem/Progenitor Cells and Increases Their Cloning Efficiency


Activation of the RhoA/ROCK signaling pathway has been shown to contribute to dissociation-induced apoptosis of embryonic and neural stem cells. We previously demonstrated that approximately 1 out of 40 LinSca-1+CD49fhigh (LSC) prostate basal epithelial cells possess the capacities of stem cells for self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation. We show here that treating LSC cells with the ROCK kinase inhibitor Y-27632 increases their cloning efficiency by 8 fold in an in vitro prostate colony assay. Y-27632 treatment allows prostate colony cells to replate efficiently, which does not occur otherwise. Y-27632 also increases the cloning efficiency of prostate stem cells in a prostate sphere assay and a dissociated prostate cell regeneration assay. The increased cloning efficiency is due to the suppression of the dissociation-induced, RhoA/ROCK activation-mediated apoptosis of prostate stem cells. Dissociation of prostate epithelial cells from extracellular matrix increases PTEN activity and attenuates AKT activity. Y-27632 treatment alone is sufficient to suppress cell dissociation-induced activation of PTEN activity. However, this does not contribute to the increased cloning efficiency, because Y-27632 treatment increases the sphere-forming unit of wild type and Pten null prostate cells to a similar extent. Finally, knocking down expression of both ROCK kinases slightly increases the replating efficiency of prostate colony cells, corroborating that they play a major role in the Y-27632 mediated increase in cloning efficiency. Our study implies that the numbers of prostate cells with stem/progenitor activity may be underestimated based on currently employed assays, supports that dissociation-induced apoptosis is a common feature of embryonic and somatic stem cells with an epithelial phenotype, and highlights the significance of environmental cues for the maintenance of stem cells.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 28-March-2011

Author(s): Zhang L., Valdez J., Zhang B., Wei L., Chang J., Xin L.


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