Mouse models of prostate adenocarcinoma with the capacity to monitor spontaneous carcinogenesis by bioluminescence or fluorescence.

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The application of Cre/loxP technology has resulted in a new generation of conditional mouse models of prostate cancer. Here, we describe the improvement of the conditional Pten deletion model of prostate adenocarcinoma by combining it with either a conditional luciferase or enhanced green fluorescent protein reporter line. In these models, the recombination mechanism that inactivates the Pten alleles also activates the reporter gene. In the luciferase reporter model, the growth of the primary cancer can be followed noninvasively by bioluminescence imaging (BLI). Surgical castration of tumor-bearing animals leads to a reduced bioluminescence signal corresponding to tumor regression that is verified at necropsy. When castrated animals are maintained, the emergence of androgen depletion-independent cancer is detected using BLI at times varying from 7 to 28 weeks postcastration. The ability to monitor growth, regression, or relapse of the tumor with the use of BLI lead to the collection of tumors at different stages of development. By comparing the distribution of phenotypically distinct populations of epithelial cells in cancer tissues, we noted that the degree of hyperplasia of cells with neuroendocrine differentiation significantly increases in the recurrent cancer relative to the primary cancer, a characteristic which may parallel the appearance of a neuroendocrine phenotype in human androgen depletion-independent cancer. The enhanced green fluorescent protein model, at necropsy, can provide an opportunity to locate or assess tumor volume or to isolate enriched populations of cancer cells from tumor tissues via fluorescence-based technologies. These refined models should be useful in the elucidation of mechanisms of prostate cancer progression, and for the development of approaches to preclinical intervention.