Identification of genes expressed in a mesenchymal subset regulating prostate organogenesis using tissue and single cell transcriptomics

Boufaied, N., Nash, C., Rochette, A., Smith, A., Orr, B., Grace, O. C., Wang, Y. C., Badescu, D., Ragoussis, J. & Thomson, A. A.
Scientific Reports
Journal publication date: 

Prostate organogenesis involves epithelial growth controlled by inductive signalling from specialised mesenchymal subsets. To identify pathways active in mesenchyme we used tissue and single cell transcriptomics to define mesenchymal subsets and subset-specific transcript expression. We documented transcript expression using Tag-seq and RNA-seq in female rat Ventral Mesenchymal Pad (VMP) as well as adjacent urethra comprised of smooth muscle and peri-urethral mesenchyme. Transcripts enriched in female VMP were identified with Tag-seq of microdissected tissue, RNA-seq of cell populations, and single cells. We identified 400 transcripts as enriched in the VMP using bio-informatic comparisons of Tag-seq and RNA-seq data, and 44 were confirmed by single cell RNA-seq. Cell subset analysis showed that VMP and adjacent mesenchyme were composed of distinct cell types and that each tissue contained two subgroups. Markers for these subgroups were highly subset specific. Thirteen transcripts were validated by qPCR to confirm cell specific expression in microdissected tissues, as well as expression in neonatal prostate. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated that Ebf3 and Meis2 showed a restricted expression pattern in female VMP and prostate mesenchyme. We conclude that prostate inductive mesenchyme shows limited cellular heterogeneity and that transcriptomic analysis identified new mesenchymal subset transcripts associated with prostate organogenesis.