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The emergence of castration-resistant prostate cancer remains an area of unmet clinical need. We recently identified a subpopulation of normal prostate progenitor cells, characterized by an intrinsic resistance to androgen deprivation and expression of LY6D. We here demonstrate that conditional deletion of PTEN in the murine prostate epithelium causes an expansion of transformed LY6D+ progenitor cells without impairing stem cell properties. Transcriptomic analyses of LY6D+ luminal cells identified an autocrine positive feedback loop, based on the secretion of amphiregulin (AREG)-mediated activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, increasing cellular fitness and organoid formation. Pharmacological interference with this pathway overcomes the castration-resistant properties of LY6D+ cells with a suppression of organoid formation and loss of LY6D+ cells in vivo. Notably, LY6D+ tumor cells are enriched in high-grade and androgen-resistant prostate cancer, providing clinical evidence for their contribution to advanced disease. Our data indicate that early interference with MAPK inhibitors can prevent progression of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Rep

Publication Date





CP: Cancer, CP: Cell biology, LY6D, autocrine MAPK signaling, castration resistance, prostate cancer