Aldehyde dehydrogenase and ATP binding cassette transporter G2 (ABCG2) functional assays isolate different populations of prostate stem cells where ABCG2 function selects for cells with increased stem cell activity

Kalyan J Gangavarapu, Gissou Azabdaftari, Carl D Morrison, Austin Miller, Barbara A Foster, Wendy J Huss
Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2013 October 25, 4 (5): 132

INTRODUCTION: High expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase1A1 (ALDH1A1) is observed in many organs and tumors and may identify benign and cancer stem cell populations.

METHODS: In the current study, the stem cell characteristics were determined in cells isolated from human prostate cell lines and clinical prostate specimens based upon the ALDEFLUOR™ assay. Cells isolated based on the ALDEFLUOR™ assay were compared to cells isolated based on ATP binding cassette transporter G2 (ABCG2) activity using the side population assay. To test for stem cell characteristics of self-renewal and multipotency, cells with high and low ALDH1A1 activity, based on the ALDEFLUOR™ assay (ALDHHi and ALDH Low), were isolated from prostate clinical specimens and were recombined with rat urogenital sinus mesenchyme to induce prostate gland formation.

RESULTS: The percentage of ALDH Hi cells in prostate cell lines (RWPE-1, RWPE-2, CWR-R1, and DU-145) was 0.5 to 6%, similarly in non-tumor and tumor clinical specimens the percentage of ALDH Hi cells was 0.6 to 4%. Recombinants using ALDH Hi cells serially generated prostate tissue up to three generations with as few as 250 starting cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of the recombinants using ALDHHi cells contained prostatic glands frequently expressing androgen receptor (AR), p63, chromogranin A, ALDH1A1, ABCG2, and prostate specific antigen (PSA), compared to their ALDH Low counterparts. Inhibition of ALDH resulted in the reduction of sphere formation capabilities in the CWR-R1, but not in the RWPE-2 and DU-145, prostate cell lines. ABCG2 inhibition resulted in a more robust decrease of sphere formation in androgen sensitive cell lines, CWR-R1 and RWPE-2, but not androgen insensitive DU-145. ALDH1A1 expression was enriched in ALDH Hi cells and non-side population cells. ABCG2 expression was only enriched in side population cells.

CONCLUSIONS: The percentage of ALDHHi cells in prostate cell lines and prostate tissue was consistently higher compared to cells with high ABCG2 activity, identified with the side population assay. The expression of the stem and differentiation markers indicates the ALDH Hi recombinants contained cells with self-renewal and multipotency activity. When the two assays were directly compared, cells with the side population phenotype demonstrated more stem cell potential in the tissue recombination assay compared to ALDH Hi cells. The increased stem cell potential of side population cells in the tissue recombination assay and the decrease in sphere formation when ABCG2 is inhibited indicates that the side population enriches for prostate stem cells.

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