Clusterin, ubiquitously distributed in mammalians, was cloned and identified as the most potently induced gene during rat prostate involution following androgen deprivation. Also found to be involved in many other patho-physiological processes, its biological significance is still controversial, particularly with regard to apoptosis. We previously showed that transient over-expression of clusterin blocked cell cycle progression of simian-virus-40-immortalized human prostate epithelial cell lines PNT1A and PNT2. We show in the present study that the accumulation of an intracellular 45 kDa clusterin isoform was an early event closely associated with death of PNT1A cells caused by cell detachment followed by apoptosis induction (anoikis). Cell morphological changes, decreased proliferation rate and cell cycle arrest at G0/G1–S-phase checkpoint were all strictly associated with the production and early translocation to the nucleus of a 45 kDa clusterin isoform. Later, nuclear clusterin was found accumulated in detached cells and apoptotic bodies. These results suggest that a 45 kDa isoform of clusterin, when targeted to the nucleus, can decrease cell proliferation and promotes cell-detachment-induced apoptosis, suggesting a possible major role for clusterin as an anti-proliferative gene in human prostate epithelial cells.

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