Club cells are a type of bronchiolar epithelial cell that serve a protective role in the lung and regenerate damaged lung epithelium. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) of young adult human prostate and urethra identified cell populations in the prostatic urethra and collecting ducts similar in morphology and transcriptomic profile to lung club cells. We further identified club cell-like epithelial cells by scRNA-seq of prostate peripheral zone tissues. Here, we aimed to identify and spatially localize club cells in situ in the prostate, including in the peripheral zone. We performed chromogenic RNA in situ hybridization for five club cell markers (CP, LTF, MMP7, PIGR, SCGB1A1) in a series of (1) nondiseased organ donor prostate and (2) radical prostatectomy specimens from individuals with prostate cancer. We report that expression of club cell genes in the peripheral zone is associated with inflammation and limited to luminal epithelial cells classified as intermediate cells in proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA). Club-like cells were enriched in radical prostatectomy specimens compared to nondiseased prostates and associated with high-grade prostate cancer. We previously reported that luminal epithelial cells in PIA can rarely harbor oncogenic TMPRSS2:ERG (ERG+) gene fusions, and we now demonstrate that club cells are present in association with ERG+ PIA that is transitioning to early adenocarcinoma. Finally, prostate epithelial organoids derived from prostatectomy specimens demonstrate that club-like epithelial cells can be established in organoids and are sensitive to anti-androgen-directed treatment in vitro in terms of decreased androgen signaling gene expression signatures compared to basal or hillock cells. Overall, our study identifies a population of club-like cells in PIA and proposes that these cells play an analogous role to that of club cells in bronchiolar epithelium. Our results further suggest that inflammation drives lineage plasticity in the human prostate and that club cells in PIA may be prone to oncogenic transformation. © 2023 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
The Journal of pathology. 2023 Aug 07 [Epub ahead of print]
Franklin W Huang, Hanbing Song, Hannah Nw Weinstein, Jamie Xie, Matthew R Cooperberg, Jessica Hicks, Luke Mummert, Angelo M De Marzo, Karen S Sfanos
Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA., Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA., Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.