Amphiregulin is coordinately expressed with heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor in the interstitial smooth muscle of the human prostate
Epidermal Growth Factor
Gene Expression Regulation
Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
Peptide growth factors have been proposed as mediators of smooth muscle-epithelial cell interactions in the human prostate; however, the identity of these molecules has not been established. In this study, we compared expression levels of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) encoding the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor-related receptor tyrosine kinases (ErbB1 through 4), the six EGF receptor ligands, EGF, transforming growth factor (TGF)-alpha, amphiregulin (ARG), HB-EGF, betacellulin, and epiregulin, and the related molecule heregulin-alpha, in a series of 10 prostate tissue specimens. Only EGF showed a disease-specific association, with increased mRNA levels in four of five PCa specimens in comparison to matched normal tissue from the same subject. In contrast, ARG and HB-EGF mRNAs showed a coordinate pattern of expression in 7/10 specimens that was distinct from all other growth factor or receptor genes examined and from mRNAs for prostate specific antigen, the androgen receptor and GAPDH, a house-keeping enzyme. Analysis of an additional series of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer specimens from 60 individuals confirmed that ARG and HB-EGF mRNA levels varied in a highly coordinate manner (r = 0.93; P < 0.0001) but showed no association with disease. ARG was immunolocalized largely to interstitial smooth muscle cells (SMC), previously identified as the site of synthesis of HB-EGF in the prostate, while the cognate ARG and HB-EGF receptor, ErbB1, was localized exclusively to ductal epithelial cells and carcinoma cells. Although ARG was a relatively poor mitogen for Balb/c3T3 cells in comparison to HB-EGF, it was similar in potency to HB-EGF in stimulating human prostate epithelial cell growth, suggesting that prostate epithelia may be a physiologic target for ARG in vivo. Expression of both ARG and HB-EGF mRNAs was induced in cultured prostate SMC by fibroblast growth factor-2, a human prostate SMC mitogen linked to prostate disease. These findings indicate that ARG and HB-EGF are likely to be key mediators of directional signaling between SMC and epithelial cells in the human prostate and appear to be coordinately regulated.