Stromal Gli signaling regulates the activity and differentiation of prostate stem and progenitor cells

Qianjin Li, Omar A. Alsaidan, Sumit Rai, Meng Wu, Huifeng Shen, Zanna Beharry, Luciana L. Almada, Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico, Lianchun Wang, Houjian Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Interactions between cells in the stroma and epithelium facilitate prostate stem cell activity and tissue regeneration capacity. Numerous molecular signal transduction pathways, including the induction of sonic hedgehog (Shh) to activate the Gli transcription factors, are known to mediate the cross-talk of these two cellular compartments. However, the details of how these signaling pathways regulate prostate stem and progenitor cell activity remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that, although cell-autonomous epithelial Shh-Gli signaling is essential to determine the expression levels of basal cell markers and the renewal potential of epithelial stem and progenitor cells, stromal Gli signaling regulates prostate stem and progenitor cell activity by increasing the number and size of prostate spheroids in vitro. Blockade of stromal Gli signaling also inhibited prostate tissue regeneration in vivo. The inhibition of stromal Gli signaling suppressed the differentiation of basal and progenitor cells to luminal cells and limited prostate tubule secretory capability. Additionally, stromal cells were able to compensate for the deficiency of epithelial Shh signaling in prostate tissue regeneration. Mechanistically, suppression of Gli signaling increased the signaling factor transforming growth factor (TGF) in stromal cells. Elevation of exogenous TGF1 levels inhibited prostate spheroid formation, suggesting that a stromal Gli–TGF signaling axis regulates the activity of epithelial progenitor cells. Our study illustrates that Gli signaling regulates epithelial stem cell activity and renewal potential in both epithelial and stromal compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10547-10560
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 6 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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