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Bone morphogenetic protein-6 (BMP-6) has been strongly implicated in prostate cancer development and bone metastasis. Our previous data showed that BMP-6 mRNA was absent in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia, but evident in primary tumours with established secondary skeletal metastases. To examine the role of BMP-6 in prostate cancer progression, we have developed a BMP-6-regulatable, doxycycline-inducible gene expression system. BMP-6 induction by doxycycline addition led to increased levels of BMP-6 RNA and protein, associated with nuclear translocation of SMADs and activation of the downstream target gene Id-1. BMP-6 protein did not enhance the proliferation rate of PC3M cells but did significantly increase the rate of migration and invasion in both PC3M and DU145 cells. Increased metalloproteinase (MMP-1 and MMP-9) mRNA levels were also observed following BMP-6 induction. Luciferase reporter assays confirmed BMP-6-mediated activation of MMP-1 and MMP-9 promoters, indicating direct transcriptional activation of MMPs by BMP-6. BMP-6 stimulation also led to an increase in phosphorylation levels of MAPK proteins. We next examined the effects of BMP-6 on the downstream gene Id-1 in a cohort of prostate cancer patients. A tissue microarray (TMA) was constructed and samples stained for BMP-6 and Id-1 expression. We observed a significant increase in the intensity of staining of epithelial BMP-6 in the cancer cases compared to the benign cases (Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.0005) and in the intensity of staining of epithelial Id-1 in the cancer cases compared to the benign cases (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.015). We further observed a significant positive correlation between epithelial staining for Id-1 and BMP-6 (p = 0.001) across all samples for both benign and cancer cases. These data demonstrate that BMP-6 promotes migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells, potentially through activation of Id-1 and MMP activation.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pathol

Publication Date





394 - 404


Biomarkers, Tumor, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 6, Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, Case-Control Studies, Cell Line, Tumor, Doxycycline, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 1, Male, Matrix Metalloproteinase 1, Matrix Metalloproteinase 9, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Phenotype, Prostate, Prostatic Neoplasms, RNA, Messenger, Smad1 Protein, Statistics, Nonparametric, Transfection