Targeted biallelic inactivation of Pten in the mouse prostate leads to prostate cancer accompanied by increased epithelial cell proliferation but not by reduced apoptosis.
The PTEN tumor suppressor gene is frequently inactivated in human tumors, including prostate cancer. Based on the Cre/loxP system, we generated a novel mouse prostate cancer model by targeted inactivation of the Pten gene. In this model, Cre recombinase was expressed under the control of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) promoter. Conditional biallelic and monoallelic Pten knock-out mice were viable and Pten recombination was prostate-specific. Mouse cohorts were systematically characterized at 4 to 5, 7 to 9, and 10 to 14 months. A slightly increased proliferation rate of epithelial cells was observed in all prostate lobes of monoallelic Pten knock-out mice (PSA-Cre;Pten-loxP/+), but minimal pathologic changes were detected. All homozygous knock-out mice (PSA-Cre;Pten-loxP/loxP) showed an increased size of the luminal epithelial cells, large areas of hyperplasia, focal prostate intraepithelial neoplasia lesions and an increased prostate weight at 4 to 5 months. More extensive prostate intraepithelial neoplasia and focal microinvasion occurred at 7 to 9 months; invasive prostate carcinoma was detected in all male PSA-Cre;Pten-loxP/loxP mice at 10 to 14 months. At 15 to 16 months, a rare lymph node metastasis was found. In hyperplastic cells and in tumor cells, the expression of phospho-AKT was up-regulated. In hyperplastic and tumor cells, expression of luminal epithelial cell cytokeratins was up-regulated; tumor cells were negative for basal epithelial cell cytokeratins. Androgen receptor expression remained detectable at all stages of tumor development. The up-regulation of phospho-AKT correlated with an increased proliferation rate of the epithelial cells, but not with a reduced apoptosis.