In the tumor microenvironment of prostate cancer (PCa), cancer cells frequently invade the surrounding stroma in the way of single cell migration (SCM) or collective cell migration (CCM). This phenomenon can be responsible for the heterogeneous formation of structural atypia such as Gleason pattern. Generally, PCa cells undergo a phenotypic change which is called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), e.g., downregulation of epithelial cell-cell adhesion molecules such as E-cadherin and gain of mesenchymal morphology and motility. The surrounding stroma is mainly composed of fibroblasts and extracellular matrix (ECM). We hypothesize that direct contact-mediated interactions at the interface between PCa cells and fibroblasts/ECM can trigger numerous changes in PCa cells including morphology and motility. In this study, we investigated the roles of fibroblasts in the three-dimensional (3D) morphogenesis of PCa cells on a viscous substrate. To examine the effects of fibroblasts on the 3D morphogenesis of PCa cells on Matrigel, we mixed human PCa cell line LNCaP cells with commercially available normal human prostate stromal cells (PrSC) or nine primary cultures of prostate fibroblasts (pcPrFs and NPFs) isolated from patients with PCa and bladder cancer. The 3D morphogenesis of LNCaP cells mixed with fibroblasts on Matrigel was confirmed by E-cadherin immunohistochemical staining. All ten fibroblasts alone were aggregated on Matrigel, whereas LNCaP cells alone were not. LNCaP cells mixed with six fibroblasts (PrSC, pcPrF-M5, pcPrF-M23, pcPrF-M24, pcPrF-M28, and pcPrF-M31) formed a deep crater-like hole on Matrigel. In the 3D structure, the upper and lower tiers were composed of LNCaP cells and fibroblasts, respectively. Of note, direct contact of four fibroblasts (NPF-M13, pcPrF-M7, pcPrF-M10, and pcPrF-M26) with LNCaP cells decreased the aggregation of fibroblasts on Matrigel. Five of six fibroblasts (PrSC, pcPrF-M5, pcPrF-M23, pcPrF-M28, and pcPrF-M31) induced SCM of LNCaP cells, while only one fibroblasts (pcPrF-M24) induced CCM. In the scratch assay, the cell motility of CCM-inducing fibroblasts was slower than that of SCM-inducing fibroblasts. Expression pattern of primary cilia in SCM-inducing fibroblasts was changed by mixing with LNCaP cells, whereas that in CCM-inducing fibroblasts was not. PCa is quite interesting because of the multi-focal and heterologous progression of primary tumors. The heterogeneous stromal compartment in PCa tissues contains multiple populations of fibroblasts that are associated with morphology and motility of PCa cells. Here our results showed that direct contact of heterogeneous fibroblasts with PCa cells on Matrigel regulated the invasive phenotype of PCa cells such as SCM and CCM. Impairing the malignant phenotype of fibroblasts in PCa tissues, e.g., differentiation therapy targeting tumor stroma, may abrogate PCa cell invasion.

Citation Format: Kenichiro Ishii, Yasuhisa Nakagawa, Taku Shirai, Masako Ichishi, Masaya Fujiwara, Daisuke Kato, Chise Matsuda, Yoshifumi Hirokawa, Yoshiki Sugimura, Masaki Inagaki, Masatoshi Watanabe. Direct contact of heterogeneous fibroblasts with cancer cells regulates the invasive phenotype of prostate cancer cells [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research 2020; 2020 Apr 27-28 and Jun 22-24. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2020;80(16 Suppl):Abstract nr 3983.