Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Virology and Gene Therapy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Wadih Arap, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Renata Pasqualini, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Neal Pellis, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Frank Marini, PhD

Committee Member

Dr. Oliver Bogler, PhD


Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death and the most common non-skin cancer in men in the USA. Considerable advancements in the practice of medicine have allowed a significant improvement in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease and, in recent years, both incidence and mortality rates have been slightly declining. However, it is still estimated that 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, and 1 man in 35 will die of the disease.

In order to identify novel strategies and effective therapeutic approaches in the fight against prostate cancer, it is imperative to improve our understanding of its complex biology since many aspects of prostate cancer initiation and progression still remain elusive. The study of tumor biomarkers, due to their specific altered expression in tumor versus normal tissue, is a valid tool for elucidating key aspects of cancer biology, and may provide important insights into the molecular mechanisms underlining the tumorigenesis process of prostate cancer.

PCA3, is considered the most specific prostate cancer biomarker, however its biological role, until now, remained unknown. PCA3 is a long non-coding RNA (ncRNA) expressed from chromosome 9q21 and its study led us to the discovery of a novel human gene, PC-TSGC, transcribed from the opposite strand and in an antisense orientation to PCA3.

With the work presented in this thesis, we demonstrate that PCA3 exerts a negative regulatory role over PC-TSGC, and we propose PC-TSGC to be a new tumor suppressor gene that contrasts the transformation of prostate cells by inhibiting Rho-GTPases signaling pathways. Our findings provide a biological role for PCA3 in prostate cancer and suggest a new mechanism of tumor suppressor gene inactivation mediated by non-coding RNA. Also, the characterization of PCA3 and PC-TSGC led us to propose a new molecular pathway involving both genes in the transformation process of the prostate, thus providing a new piece of the jigsaw puzzle representing the complex biology of prostate cancer.


PCA3, PC-TSGC, prostate cancer, non coding RNA, PRUNE2, BMCC1, tumor suppressor