The prostate cell type enriched transcriptome

The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system which produces approximately one third of the fluid that makes up semen. The fluid produced by the prostate helps protect and nourish the sperm cells and prolongs their survival after expulsion from the urethra.

1935 genes were predicted to have cell type specificity in the prostate.

  • 9 cell types profiled
  • 556 very highly enriched genes
  • 629 highly enriched genes
  • 750 moderately enriched genes

Prostate cell type enriched transcriptome: Summary

Genes with predicted cell type specificity within prostate are detailed in Table 1. Identified genes are subdivided into 3 specificity categories, based on the difference between the enrichment score in the corresponding cell type, compared to the other cell types profiled in the tissue (see Methods Summary page for details):

  • Predicted specificity: ´Very high´ - Differential score vs. other profiled cell types within the tissue >0.35
  • Predicted specificity: ´High´ - Differential score vs. other profiled cell types within the tissue >0.25
  • Predicted specificity: ´Moderate´ - Differential score vs. other profiled cell types within the tissue >0.15

Table 1. Number of genes in each specificity category in the prostate cell types.

Cell type Very highHighModerate Total enriched
Prostate glandular cells 261 121 56 438
Prostate basal glandular cells 4 26 75 105
Urothelial cells 19 54 86 159
Endothelial cells 55 55 67 177
Smooth muscle cells 126 117 108 351
Fibroblasts 59 94 132 285
Macrophages 23 41 31 95
T-cells 0 32 150 182
Plasma cells 9 89 45 143
All cell types 556629750 1935

Figure 1. Bar plot of the number of enriched genes in the cell types of the prostate, divided by specificity category

Prostate cell type enriched transcriptome: Illustrative examples

Prostate glandular cells

The prostate glandular cells line the luminal surface of the prostate gland, and secrete a variety of proteins that make up the seminal fluid, such as Kallikrein Related Peptidase 3 (KLK3), also known as prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is believed to be important for liquefaction of seminal fluid in the seminal coagulum allowing sperm to swim freely. The serum levels of PSA are often elevated in prostate cancer, and other prostate disorders, making it a widely used biomarker for early detection in patients with prostate cancer. Other genes classified as having high specificity in the prostate glandular cells include Homogentisate 1,2-dioxygenase (HGD), responsible for the breakdown of tyrosine and phenylalanine.

KLK3 - Prostate


HGD - Prostate


Prostate basal glandular cells

Basal glandular cells of the prostate lie beneath the luminal glandular cells, and are important for the structural integrity of the prostate gland. Basal cells are also thought to be the source of the majority of prostate cancers. Genes classified as having high specificity in basal glandular cells include plakophilin-3 (PKP3), involved in the stability of intercellular junctions, or desmosomes, as well as Tumor Protein P73 (TP73), which is involved in the cell cycle.

PKP3 - Prostate


TP73 - Prostate


Urothelial cells

Seminal fluid from the prostate empties into the urethra, which runs directly through the prostate and is lined by urothelial cells. Urothelial cells are highly impermeable, and protect the underlying tissue from toxic components of the urine. Genes classified as having high specificity in urothelial cells include the structural intermediate filament Keratin 13 KRT13, as well as the antimicrobial peptide GPR15LG.

KRT13 - Prostate

GPR15LG - Prostate

The immunohistochemistry images of prostate tissue featured in the Human Protein Atlas do not currently include examples from the urethra or urothelial cell tissue.