ETS gene fusions have been characterized in a majority of prostate cancers, however the key molecular alterations in ETS negative cancers are unclear. Here we used an outlier meta-analysis (meta-COPA) to identify SPINK1 outlier-expression exclusively in a subset of ETS rearrangement negative cancers (~10% of total cases). We validated the mutual exclusivity of SPINK1 expression and ETS fusion status, demonstrated that SPINK1 outlier-expression can be detected non-invasively in urine and observed that SPINK1 outlier-expression is an independent predictor of biochemical recurrence after resection. We identified the aggressive 22RV1 cell line as a SPINK1 outlier-expression model, and demonstrate that SPINK1 knockdown in 22RV1 attenuates invasion, suggesting a functional role in ETS rearrangement negative prostate cancers.
Most personalized cancer care strategies involving DNA sequencing are highly reliant on acquiring sufficient fresh or frozen tissue. It has been challenging to comprehensively evaluate the genome of advanced prostate cancer (PCa) because of limited access to metastatic tissue.
To demonstrate the feasibility of a novel next-generation sequencing (NGS) based platform that can be used with archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biopsy tissue to evaluate the spectrum of DNA alterations seen in advanced PCa.
Design, setting, and participants
FFPE samples (including archival prostatectomies and prostate needle biopsies) were obtained from 45 patients representing the spectrum of disease: localized PCa, metastatic hormone-naive PCa, and metastatic castration-resistant PCa (CRPC). We also assessed paired primaries and metastases to understand disease heterogeneity and disease progression.
At least 50 ng of tumor DNA was extracted from FFPE samples and used for hybridization capture and NGS using the Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis
A total of 3320 exons of 182 cancer-associated genes and 37 introns of 14 commonly rearranged genes were evaluated for genomic alterations.
Results and limitations
We obtained an average sequencing depth of >900X. Overall, 44% of CRPCs harbored genomic alterations involving the androgen receptor gene (AR), including AR copy number gain (24% of CRPCs) or AR point mutation (20% of CRPCs). Other recurrent mutations included transmembrane protease, serine 2 gene (TMPRSS2):v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog (avian) gene (ERG) fusion (44%); phosphatase and tensin homolog gene (PTEN) loss (44%); tumor protein p53 gene (TP53) mutation (40%); retinoblastoma gene (RB) loss (28%); v-myc myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (avian) gene (MYC) gain (12%); and phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit α gene (PIK3CA) mutation (4%). There was a high incidence of genomic alterations involving key genes important for DNA repair, including breast cancer 2, early onset gene (BRCA2) loss (12%) and ataxia telangiectasia mutated gene (ATM) mutations (8%); these alterations are potentially targetable with poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose)polymerase inhibitors. A novel and actionable rearrangement involving the v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 gene (BRAF) was also detected.
This first-in-principle study demonstrates the feasibility of performing in-depth DNA analyses using FFPE tissue and brings new insight toward understanding the genomic landscape within advanced PCa.
Next-generation sequencing; Castration-resistant prostate cancer; Prostate cancer genome
ERG gene rearrangements are found in about one half of all prostate cancers. Functional analyses do not fully explain the selective pressure causing ERG rearrangement during the development of prostate cancer. To identify transcriptional changes in prostate cancer, including tumors with ERG gene rearrangements, we performed a meta-analysis on published gene expression data followed by validations on mRNA and protein levels as well as first functional investigations. Eight expression studies (n = 561) on human prostate tissues were included in the meta-analysis. Transcriptional changes between prostate cancer and non-cancerous prostate, as well as ERG rearrangement-positive (ERG+) and ERG rearrangement-negative (ERG−) prostate cancer, were analyzed. Detailed results can be accessed through an online database. We validated our meta-analysis using data from our own independent microarray study (n = 57). 84% and 49% (fold-change>2 and >1.5, respectively) of all transcriptional changes between ERG+ and ERG− prostate cancer determined by meta-analysis were verified in the validation study. Selected targets were confirmed by immunohistochemistry: NPY and PLA2G7 (up-regulated in ERG+ cancers), and AZGP1 and TFF3 (down-regulated in ERG+ cancers). First functional investigations for one of the most prominent ERG rearrangement-associated genes - neuropeptide Y (NPY) - revealed increased glucose uptake in vitro indicating the potential role of NPY in regulating cellular metabolism. In summary, we found robust population-independent transcriptional changes in prostate cancer and first signs of ERG rearrangements inducing metabolic changes in cancer cells by activating major metabolic signaling molecules like NPY. Our study indicates that metabolic changes possibly contribute to the selective pressure favoring ERG rearrangements in prostate cancer.
Emerging molecular and clinical data suggest that ETS fusion prostate cancer represents a distinct molecular subclass, driven most commonly by a hormonally regulated promoter and characterized by an aggressive natural history. The study of the genomic landscape of prostate cancer in the light of ETS fusion events is required to understand the foundation of this molecularly and clinically distinct subtype. We performed genome-wide profiling of 49 primary prostate cancers and identified 20 recurrent chromosomal copy number aberrations, mainly occurring as genomic losses. Co-occurring events included losses at 19q13.32 and 1p22.1. We discovered 3 genomic events associated with ERG rearranged prostate cancer, affecting 6q, 7q, and 16q. 6q loss in non- rearranged prostate cancer is accompanied by gene expression deregulation in an independent dataset and by protein deregulation of MYO6. To analyze copy number alterations within the ETS genes, we performed a comprehensive analysis of all 27 ETS genes and of the 3Mbp genomic area between ERG and TMPRSS2 (21q) with an unprecedented resolution (30 bp). We demonstrate that high-resolution tiling arrays can be used to pin-point breakpoints leading to fusion events. This study provides further support to defining a distinct molecular subtype of prostate cancer based on the presence of ETS gene rearrangements.
ETS genes; prostate cancer; gain; loss
Prostate cancer, the most common male cancer in Western countries, is commonly detected with complex chromosomal rearrangements. Following the discovery of the recurrent TMPRSS2:ETS fusions in prostate cancer and EML4:ALK in non-small-cell lung cancer, it is now accepted that fusion genes not only are the hallmark of haematological malignancies and sarcomas, but also play an important role in epithelial cell carcinogenesis. However, previous studies aiming to identify fusion genes in prostate cancer were mainly focused on expression changes and fusion transcripts. To investigate the genes recurrently affected by the chromosome breakpoints in prostate cancer, we analysed Affymetrix array 6.0 and 500K SNP microarray data from 77 prostate cancer samples. While the two genes most frequently affected by genomic breakpoints were, as expected, ERG and TMPRSS2, surprisingly more known tumour suppressor genes (TSGs) than known oncogenes were identified at recurrent chromosome breakpoints. Certain well-characterised TSGs, including p53, PTEN, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are recurrently truncated as a result of chromosome rearrangements in prostate cancer. Interestingly, many of the genes residing at recurrent breakpoint sites have not yet been implicated in prostate carcinogenesis such as HOOK3, PPP2R2A and TCBA1. We have confirmed the generally reduced expression of selected genes in clinical samples using quantitative RT-PCR analysis. Subsequently, we further investigated the genes associated with the t(4:6) translocation in LNCaP cells and reveal the genomic fusion of SNX9 and putative TSG UNC5C, which led to the reduced expression of both genes. This study reveals another common mechanism that leads to the inactivation of TSGs in prostate cancer and the identification of multiple TSGs inactivated by chromosome rearrangements will lead to new direction of research for the molecular basis of prostate carcinogenesis.
prostate cancer; chromosome rearrangements; chromosome breakpoints; tumour suppressor gene; oncogene; SNP array; FISH; QRT-PCR
The majority of prostate cancers harbor recurrent gene fusions between the hormone-regulated TMPRSS2 and members of the ETS family of transcription factors, most commonly ERG. Prostate cancer with ERG rearrangements represent a distinct subclass of tumor based on studies reporting associations with histomorphologic features, characteristic somatic copy number alterations, and gene expression signatures. The current study describes the frequency of ERG rearrangement prostate cancer and three 5 prime (5') gene fusion partners (i.e., TMPRSS2, SLC45A3 and NDRG1) in a large prostatectomy cohort.
ERG gene rearrangements and mechanism of rearrangement, as well as rearrangements of TMPRSS2, SLC45A3, and NDRG1 were assessed using fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) on prostate cancer samples from 614 patients treated by radical prostatectomy. ERG rearrangement occurred in 53% of the 540 assessable cases. TMPRSS2 and SLC45A3 were the only 5' partner in 78% and 6% of these ERG rearranged cases, respectively. Interestingly, 11% of the ERG rearranged cases demonstrated concurrent TMPRSS2 and SLC45A3 rearrangements. TMPRSS2 or SLC45A3 rearrangements could not be identified for 5% of the ERG rearranged cases. From these remaining cases we identified one case with NDRG1 rearrangement. We did not observe any associations with pathologic parameters or clinical outcome.
This is the first study to describe the frequency of SLC45A3-ERG fusions in a large clinical cohort. Most studies have assumed that all ERG rearrangement prostate cancers harbor TMPRSS2-ERG fusions. This is also the first study to report concurrent TMPRSS2 and SLC45A3 rearrangements in the same tumor focus suggesting additional complexity that had not been previously appreciated. This study has important clinical implications for the development of diagnostic assays to detect ETS rearrangement prostate cancer. Incorporation of these less common ERG rearrangement prostate cancer fusion assays could further increase the sensitivity of these PCR-based approaches.
Prostate cancer; ETS rearrangements; prevalence
Prostatic carcinoma is a heterogeneous disease with frequent multifocality and variability in morphology. Particularly, prostatic small cell carcinoma is a rare variant with aggressive behavior. Distinction between small cell carcinoma of the prostate and urinary bladder may be challenging, especially in small biopsy specimens without associated prostatic adenocarcinoma or urothelial carcinoma. Recently, gene fusions between ETS genes, particularly ETS-related gene (ERG), and transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2) have been identified as a frequent event in prostate cancer. Thus, molecular methods may be helpful in determining the primary site of small cell carcinoma. Thirty cases of prostatic small cell carcinoma from the authors’ archives were studied, among which 13 had concurrent prostatic adenocarcinoma. Tricolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections with a probe cocktail for 3′/5′ ERG and TMPRSS2. Cases of small cell carcinoma of the bladder and conventional prostatic adenocarcinoma (25 each) were also tested as controls. ERG gene alterations were found only in prostate malignancies and not in benign prostatic tissue or bladder small cell carcinoma. TMPRSS2–ERG gene fusion was found in 47% (14/30) of prostatic small cell carcinoma. Of cases with concurrent prostatic adenocarcinoma, 85% (11/13) had identical findings in both components. In 20% of rearranged cases, the ERG abnormality was associated with 5′ ERG deletion. In 17% (5/30) of cases, gain of the 21q22 locus was present. Two cases showed discordant aberrations in the small cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, one with deletion of 5′ ERG and one with gain of chromosome 21q, both in only the adenocarcinoma component. Small cell carcinoma of the prostate demonstrates TMPRSS2–ERG rearrangement with comparable frequency to prostatic adenocarcinoma. In cases with concurrent adenocarcinoma and small cell carcinoma, the majority showed identical abnormalities in both components, indicating a likely common clonal origin. Discordant alterations were present in rare cases, suggesting that acquisition of additional genetic changes in multifocal tumors may be responsible for disease progression to a more aggressive phenotype. TMPRSS2–ERG fusion is absent in bladder small cell carcinoma, supporting the utility of FISH in distinguishing prostate from bladder primary tumors and identifying metastatic small cell carcinoma of unknown origin.
ERG–TMPRSS2 rearrangement; fluorescence in situ hybridization; histogenesis; morphology; prostate; small cell carcinoma; urothelium
Cancer outlier profile analysis (COPA) has proven to be an effective approach to analyzing cancer expression data, leading to the discovery of the TMPRSS2 and ETS family gene fusion events in prostate cancer. However, the original COPA algorithm did not identify down-regulated outliers, and the currently available R package implementing the method is similarly restricted to the analysis of over-expressed outliers. Here we present a modified outlier detection method, mCOPA, which contains refinements to the outlier-detection algorithm, identifies both over- and under-expressed outliers, is freely available, and can be applied to any expression dataset.
We compare our method to other feature-selection approaches, and demonstrate that mCOPA frequently selects more-informative features than do differential expression or variance-based feature selection approaches, and is able to recover observed clinical subtypes more consistently. We demonstrate the application of mCOPA to prostate cancer expression data, and explore the use of outliers in clustering, pathway analysis, and the identification of tumour suppressors. We analyse the under-expressed outliers to identify known and novel prostate cancer tumour suppressor genes, validating these against data in Oncomine and the Cancer Gene Index. We also demonstrate how a combination of outlier analysis and pathway analysis can identify molecular mechanisms disrupted in individual tumours.
We demonstrate that mCOPA offers advantages, compared to differential expression or variance, in selecting outlier features, and that the features so selected are better able to assign samples to clinically annotated subtypes. Further, we show that the biology explored by outlier analysis differs from that uncovered in differential expression or variance analysis. mCOPA is an important new tool for the exploration of cancer datasets and the discovery of new cancer subtypes, and can be combined with pathway and functional analysis approaches to discover mechanisms underpinning heterogeneity in cancers.
Cancer; Outliers; Expression data; Expression profile; Cluster; Subtype; Heterogeneous; Bioinformatics; Percentile; Feature selection
Patients with prostate cancer may present with metastatic or recurrent disease despite initial curative treatment. The propensity of metastatic prostate cancer to spread to the bone has limited repeated sampling of tumor deposits. Hence, considerably less is understood about this lethal metastatic disease, as it is not commonly studied. Here we explored whole-genome sequencing of plasma DNA to scan the tumor genomes of these patients non-invasively.
We wanted to make whole-genome analysis from plasma DNA amenable to clinical routine applications and developed an approach based on a benchtop high-throughput platform, that is, Illuminas MiSeq instrument. We performed whole-genome sequencing from plasma at a shallow sequencing depth to establish a genome-wide copy number profile of the tumor at low costs within 2 days. In parallel, we sequenced a panel of 55 high-interest genes and 38 introns with frequent fusion breakpoints such as the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion with high coverage. After intensive testing of our approach with samples from 25 individuals without cancer we analyzed 13 plasma samples derived from five patients with castration resistant (CRPC) and four patients with castration sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC).
The genome-wide profiling in the plasma of our patients revealed multiple copy number aberrations including those previously reported in prostate tumors, such as losses in 8p and gains in 8q. High-level copy number gains in the AR locus were observed in patients with CRPC but not with CSPC disease. We identified the TMPRSS2-ERG rearrangement associated 3-Mbp deletion on chromosome 21 and found corresponding fusion plasma fragments in these cases. In an index case multiregional sequencing of the primary tumor identified different copy number changes in each sector, suggesting multifocal disease. Our plasma analyses of this index case, performed 13 years after resection of the primary tumor, revealed novel chromosomal rearrangements, which were stable in serial plasma analyses over a 9-month period, which is consistent with the presence of one metastatic clone.
The genomic landscape of prostate cancer can be established by non-invasive means from plasma DNA. Our approach provides specific genomic signatures within 2 days which may therefore serve as 'liquid biopsy'.
Gene fusions involving the erythroblast transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factors ERG, ETV1, ETV4, ETV5, and FLI1 are a common feature of prostate carcinomas (PCas). The most common upstream fusion partner described is the androgen-regulated prostate-specific gene TMPRSS2, most frequently with ERG, but additional 5′ fusion partners have been described. We performed 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends in 18 PCas with ETV1, ETV4, or ETV5 outlier expression to identify the 5′ fusion partners. We also evaluated the exon-level expression profile of these ETS genes in 14 cases. We identified and confirmed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction the two novel chimeric genes OR51E2-ETV1 and UBTF-ETV4 in two PCas. OR51E2 encodes a G-protein-coupled receptor that is overexpressed in PCas, whereas UBTF is a ubiquitously expressed gene encoding an HMG-box DNA-binding protein involved in ribosome biogenesis. We additionally describe two novel gene fusion combinations of previously described genes, namely, SLC45A3-ETV4 and HERVK17-ETV4. Finally, we found one PCa with TMPRSS2-ETV1, one with C15orf21-ETV1, one with EST14-ETV1, and two with 14q133-q21.1-ETV1. In nine PCas (eight ETV1 and one ETV5), exhibiting ETS outlier expression and genomic rearrangement detected by FISH, no 5′ fusion partner was found. Our findings contribute significantly to characterize the heterogeneous group of ETS gene fusions and indicate that all genes described as 5′ fusion partners with one ETS gene can most likely be rearranged with any of the other ETS genes involved in prostate carcinogenesis.
Characterization of the prostate cancer transcriptome and genome has identified chromosomal rearrangements and copy number gains/losses, including ETS gene fusions, PTEN loss and androgen receptor (AR) amplification, that drive prostate cancer development and progression to lethal, metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC)1. As less is known about the role of mutations2–4, here we sequenced the exomes of 50 lethal, heavily-pretreated metastatic CRPCs obtained at rapid autopsy (including three different foci from the same patient) and 11 treatment naïve, high-grade localized prostate cancers. We identified low overall mutation rates even in heavily treated CRPC (2.00/Mb) and confirmed the monoclonal origin of lethal CRPC. Integrating exome copy number analysis identified disruptions of CHD1, which define a subtype of ETS fusionnegative prostate cancer. Similarly, we demonstrate that ETS2, which is deleted in ~1/3 of CRPCs (commonly through TMPRSS2:ERG fusions), is also deregulated through mutation. Further, we identified recurrent mutations in multiple chromatin/histone modifying genes, including MLL2 (mutated in 8.6% of prostate cancers), and demonstrate interaction of the MLL complex with AR, which is required for AR-mediated signaling. We also identified novel recurrent mutations in the AR collaborating factor FOXA1, which is mutated in 5 of 147 (3.4%) prostate cancers (both untreated localized prostate cancer and CRPC), and showed that mutated FOXA1 represses androgen signaling and increases tumour growth. Proteins that physically interact with AR, such as the ERG gene fusion product, FOXA1, MLL2, UTX, and ASXL1 were found to be mutated in CRPC. In summary, we describe the mutational landscape of a heavily treated metastatic cancer, identify novel mechanisms of AR signaling deregulated in prostate cancer, and prioritize candidates for future study.
The discovery of ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss warrants investigation in a mechanism-based prognostic classification of prostate cancer (PCa). The study objective was to evaluate the potential clinical significance and natural history of different disease categories by combining ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss status.
We utilised fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) assays to detect PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements in 308 conservatively managed PCa patients with survival outcome data.
ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements alone and PTEN gene loss alone both failed to show a link to survival in multivariate analyses. However, there was a strong interaction between ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss (P<0.001). The largest subgroup of patients (54%), lacking both PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements comprised a ‘good prognosis' population exhibiting favourable cancer-specific survival (85.5% alive at 11 years). The presence of PTEN gene loss in the absence of ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements identified a patient population (6%) with poorer cancer-specific survival that was highly significant (HR=4.87, P<0.001 in multivariate analysis, 13.7% survival at 11 years) when compared with the ‘good prognosis' group. ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss status should now prospectively be incorporated into a predictive model to establish whether predictive performance is improved.
Our data suggest that FISH studies of PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements could be pursued for patient stratification, selection and hypothesis-generating subgroup analyses in future PCa clinical trials and potentially in patient management.
ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements; fluorescence in situ hybridisation; PTEN gene loss; prostate cancer; survival
Histologic variants of prostate carcinoma account for 5-10% of the disease and are typically seen in association with conventional acinar carcinoma. These variants often differ from the latter in clinical, immunophenotypic, and biologic potential. Recently, recurrent gene fusions between the androgen-regulated gene TMPRSS2 and the ETS transcription factors ERG, ETV1, ETV4 or ETV5 have been identified in a majority of conventional prostate carcinomas. However, the frequency and significance of this critical molecular event is unknown in the histologic variants of prostate carcinoma. Here, we used break-apart fluorescence in situ hybridization to assess TMPRSS2 and ETS aberrations in a series of select histologic variants: foamy gland carcinoma (N=17), ductal adenocarcinoma (N=18), mucinous carcinoma (N=18), and small cell carcinoma (N=7). A histologic variation of acinar adenocarcinoma, demonstrating glomeruloid morphology (N=9), was also investigated. Overall, 55% of histologic variant or variation morphologies demonstrated ETS aberrations (ERG in 54% and ETV1 in 1%). TMPRSS2:ERG fusion was identified in 83% (15/18), 71% (5/7), 50% (9/18), 33% (3/9) and 29% (5/17) of mucinous, small cell, ductal, glomeruloid, and foamy gland prostate carcinomas, respectively. Previously, we reported that 100% of androgen-independent metastatic prostate carcinomas harboring TMPRSS2:ERG gene fusion were associated with interstitial deletion (Edel). Interestingly, ERG rearrangement in small cell carcinomas occurred exclusively through EDel, supporting the notion that TMPRSS2:ERG with Edel is an aggressive molecular subtype. SPINK-1, a biomarker expressed exclusively in a subset of ETS negative prostate carcinomas, was expressed in 6% of ETS negative histologic variants, specifically in ductal adenocarcinoma. Notably, 88% (43/49) variant morphologies in this cohort showed concordance of TMPRSS2:ERG fusion with associated conventional acinar type, suggesting that variant morphology is clonally related to the latter. Overall, our data provides insight into the origin, molecular mechanism and phenotypic association of ETS fusions in histologic variants of prostate carcinoma.
ETS; Rearrangement; Histologic variant; Prostate carcinoma; Fluorescence in situ hybridization
Gene fusions created by somatic genomic rearrangements are known to play an important role in the onset and development of some cancers, such as lymphomas and sarcomas. RNA-Seq (whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing) is proving to be a useful tool for the discovery of novel gene fusions in cancer transcriptomes. However, algorithmic methods for the discovery of gene fusions using RNA-Seq data remain underdeveloped. We have developed deFuse, a novel computational method for fusion discovery in tumor RNA-Seq data. Unlike existing methods that use only unique best-hit alignments and consider only fusion boundaries at the ends of known exons, deFuse considers all alignments and all possible locations for fusion boundaries. As a result, deFuse is able to identify fusion sequences with demonstrably better sensitivity than previous approaches. To increase the specificity of our approach, we curated a list of 60 true positive and 61 true negative fusion sequences (as confirmed by RT-PCR), and have trained an adaboost classifier on 11 novel features of the sequence data. The resulting classifier has an estimated value of 0.91 for the area under the ROC curve. We have used deFuse to discover gene fusions in 40 ovarian tumor samples, one ovarian cancer cell line, and three sarcoma samples. We report herein the first gene fusions discovered in ovarian cancer. We conclude that gene fusions are not infrequent events in ovarian cancer and that these events have the potential to substantially alter the expression patterns of the genes involved; gene fusions should therefore be considered in efforts to comprehensively characterize the mutational profiles of ovarian cancer transcriptomes.
Genome rearrangements and associated gene fusions are known to be important oncogenic events in some cancers. We have developed a novel computational method called deFuse for detecting gene fusions in RNA-Seq data and have applied it to the discovery of novel gene fusions in sarcoma and ovarian tumors. We assessed the accuracy of our method and found that deFuse produces substantially better sensitivity and specificity than two other published methods. We have also developed a set of 60 positive and 61 negative examples that will be useful for accurate identification of gene fusions in future RNA-Seq datasets. We have trained a classifier on 11 novel features of the 121 examples, and show that the classifier is able to accurately identify real gene fusions. The 45 gene fusions reported in this study represent the first ovarian cancer fusions reported, as well as novel sarcoma fusions. By examining the expression patterns of the affected genes, we find that many fusions are predicted to have functional consequences and thus merit experimental followup to determine their clinical relevance.
The broad tolerance of domain-rearranging mutations by a yeast signaling network suggests that signaling complexes have loose spatial constraints, making manipulation and perhaps evolution easier.
The rearrangement of protein domains is known to have key roles in the evolution of signaling networks and, consequently, is a major tool used to synthetically rewire networks. However, natural mutational events leading to the creation of proteins with novel domain combinations, such as in frame fusions followed by domain loss, retrotranspositions, or translocations, to name a few, often simultaneously replace pre-existing genes. Thus, while proteins with new domain combinations may establish novel network connections, it is not clear how the concomitant deletions are tolerated. We investigated the mechanisms that enable signaling networks to tolerate domain rearrangement-mediated gene replacements. Using as a model system the yeast mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK)-mediated mating pathway, we analyzed 92 domain-rearrangement events affecting 11 genes. Our results indicate that, while domain rearrangement events that result in the loss of catalytic activities within the signaling complex are not tolerated, domain rearrangements can drastically alter protein interactions without impairing function. This suggests that signaling complexes can maintain function even when some components are recruited to alternative sites within the complex. Furthermore, we also found that the ability of the complex to tolerate changes in interaction partners does not depend on long disordered linkers that often connect domains. Taken together, our results suggest that some signaling complexes are dynamic ensembles with loose spatial constraints that could be easily re-shaped by evolution and, therefore, are ideal targets for cellular engineering.
Cells use complex protein interaction networks to sense and process external signals. Proteins involved in signaling are often composed of multiple functional units called domains. Because domains are modular, mutations that rearrange domains among proteins have the potential to result in the creation of novel proteins with altered functions. At an evolutionary timescale, domain rearrangements contribute to the functional diversification of signaling networks; at the shorter timescale of the life of an individual, domain rearrangements can impair cellular functions and lead to disease. Here, we investigated how domain-rearranging mutations alter the function of signaling networks, in particular when these mutations disrupt pre-existing proteins. We used as a model system the yeast mating signaling pathway, which shares many properties with more complex pathways active in human cells. Our results demonstrate that signaling networks are often robust to domain rearrangements that disrupt pre-existing genes. In addition, our experiments suggest a possible mechanism to explain this robustness: rather than being a rigid multi-protein machine, the yeast mating signaling complex is a dynamic ensemble with loose spatial constraints. Because of this, the changes in protein interaction partners caused by domain-rearrangement mutations can be accommodated without disrupting network function.
Identification of specific somatic gene alterations is crucial for the insight into the development, progression, and clinical behavior of individual cancer types. The recently discovered recurrent ERG rearrangement in prostate cancer (PCa) might represent a PCa specific alteration that has not been systematically assessed in tumors other than PCa. Aim of this study was to assess, whether the ERG rearrangement and the distinct deletion site between TMPRSS2 and ERG, both predominantly resulting in a TMPRSS2-ERG fusion, occurs in tumors other than PCa.
We assessed 54 different tumor types (2942 samples in total) for their ERG rearrangement status by FISH. To calibrate, we analyzed 285 PCa samples for the ERG rearrangement frequency. Additionally, we interrogated a high-resolution SNP data set across 3131 cancer specimens (26 tumor types) for copy number alterations.
None of the 54 different tumor types assessed by FISH harbored an ERG rearrangement, whereas the PCa samples revealed an ERG rearrangement in 31.2%–49.5%, depending on the cohort. Furthermore, within the 26 tumor types assessed for copy number alterations by SNP, the distinct deletion site between TMPRSS2 and ERG (21q22.2-3) was detectable exclusively in PCa.
Although Ewing's sarcoma and AML have known rearrangements rarely involving ERG, we hypothesize that the ERG rearrangement as well as the distinct deletion site on 21q22.2-3 between TMPRSS2 and ERG, are PCa specific genomic alterations. These observations provide further insight into the oncogenesis of PCa and might be critical for the development of ERG rearrangement assessment as a clinical tool.
ERG rearrangement; prostate cancer; carcinoma
RNA-seq has spurred important gene fusion discoveries in a number of different cancers, including lung, prostate, breast, brain, thyroid and bladder carcinomas. Gene fusion discovery can potentially lead to the development of novel treatments that target the underlying genetic abnormalities.
In this study, we provide comprehensive view of gene fusion landscape in 185 glioblastoma multiforme patients from two independent cohorts. Fusions occur in approximately 30-50% of GBM patient samples. In the Ivy Center cohort of 24 patients, 33% of samples harbored fusions that were validated by qPCR and Sanger sequencing. We were able to identify high-confidence gene fusions from RNA-seq data in 53% of the samples in a TCGA cohort of 161 patients. We identified 13 cases (8%) with fusions retaining a tyrosine kinase domain in the TCGA cohort and one case in the Ivy Center cohort. Ours is the first study to describe recurrent fusions involving non-coding genes. Genomic locations 7p11 and 12q14-15 harbor majority of the fusions. Fusions on 7p11 are formed in focally amplified EGFR locus whereas 12q14-15 fusions are formed by complex genomic rearrangements. All the fusions detected in this study can be further visualized and analyzed using our website: http://ivygap.swedish.org/fusions.
Our study highlights the prevalence of gene fusions as one of the major genomic abnormalities in GBM. The majority of the fusions are private fusions, and a minority of these recur with low frequency. A small subset of patients with fusions of receptor tyrosine kinases can benefit from existing FDA approved drugs and drugs available in various clinical trials. Due to the low frequency and rarity of clinically relevant fusions, RNA-seq of GBM patient samples will be a vital tool for the identification of patient-specific fusions that can drive personalized therapy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-818) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Gene fusion; Glioblastoma; RNA-seq; EGFR fusions; NTRK1; ROS1; FGFR3-TACC3; PIK3C2B; Non-coding gene fusions
Since the identification of TMPRSS2/ERG
rearrangement as the most common fusion event in prostate cancer, various
methods have been developed to detect this rearrangement and to study its
prognostic significance. We hereby report a novel 4-color fluorescence in
situ hybridization (FISH) assay that not only detects the typical
TMPRSS2:ERG fusion but also alternative rearrangements
of either the TMPRSS2 or ERG gene.
We validated this assay on fresh, frozen, or formalin-fixed
paraffin-embedded prostate cancer specimens including cell lines, primary
prostate cancer, xenograft tissues derived from metastatic prostate cancer,
and metastatic tissues from castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC)
When compared with RT-PCR or Gen-Probe method as the technical
reference, the 4-color FISH assay demonstrated an analytical sensitivity of
94.5% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.80-0.99) and specificity of 100% (95%
CI 0.89-1.00) for detecting TMPRSS2:ERG fusion.
TMPRSS2:ERG fusion was detected at 41% and 43% in
primary prostate cancer (n = 59) and CRPC tumors (n = 82), respectively.
Alternative rearrangements other than the typical
TMPRSS2:ERG fusion were confirmed by karyotype analysis
and shown present in 7% primary cancer and 13% CRPC tumors. Successful
karyotype analysis is reported for the first time on four of the xenograft
samples, complementing the FISH results.
This 4-color FISH assay provides sensitive detection of
TMPRSS2 and ERG gene rearrangements in
Prostate cancer; TMPRSS2; ERG; FISH
Gene fusions, like BCR/ABL1 in chronic myelogenous leukemia, have long been recognized in hematologic and mesenchymal malignancies. The recent finding of gene fusions in prostate and lung cancers has motivated the search for pathogenic gene fusions in other malignancies. Here, we developed a “breakpoint analysis” pipeline to discover candidate gene fusions by tell-tale transcript level or genomic DNA copy number transitions occurring within genes. Mining data from 974 diverse cancer samples, we identified 198 candidate fusions involving annotated cancer genes. From these, we validated and further characterized novel gene fusions involving ROS1 tyrosine kinase in angiosarcoma (CEP85L/ROS1), SLC1A2 glutamate transporter in colon cancer (APIP/SLC1A2), RAF1 kinase in pancreatic cancer (ATG7/RAF1) and anaplastic astrocytoma (BCL6/RAF1), EWSR1 in melanoma (EWSR1/CREM), CDK6 kinase in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (FAM133B/CDK6), and CLTC in breast cancer (CLTC/VMP1). Notably, while these fusions involved known cancer genes, all occurred with novel fusion partners and in previously unreported cancer types. Moreover, several constituted druggable targets (including kinases), with therapeutic implications for their respective malignancies. Lastly, breakpoint analysis identified new cell line models for known rearrangements, including EGFRvIII and FIP1L1/PDGFRA. Taken together, we provide a robust approach for gene fusion discovery, and our results highlight a more widespread role of fusion genes in cancer pathogenesis.
Gene fusions represent an important class of cancer genes, created by rearrangements of the genome that bring together two different genes. Because they are unique to cancer cells, gene fusions are ideal diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. While gene fusions were once thought restricted mainly to blood cancers, recent discoveries suggest they are more widespread. Here, we have developed an approach for mining DNA microarray data to detect the tell-tale signatures of gene fusions, as “breakpoints” occurring within the encoding DNA or expressed transcripts. We apply this approach to a large collection of nearly 1,000 human cancer specimens. From this analysis, we discover and verify twelve new gene fusions occurring in diverse cancer types. We verify that some of these rearrangements recur in other samples of the same cancer type (supporting a causal role) and that the cancers show dependency on the fusion for cancer cell growth. Notably, some of these fusions (e.g. CEP85L/ROS1 in angiosarcoma) represent the first for that cancer type and thus provide important new biological insight. Some are also good drug targets (including rearrangements of ROS1, RAF1, and CDK6 kinases), with clear implications for therapy.
A step toward the molecular classification of prostate cancer was the discovery of recurrent erythroblast transformation-specific rearrangements, most commonly fusing the androgen-regulated TMPRSS2 promoter to ERG. The TMPRSS2-ERG fusion is observed in around 90% of tumors that overexpress the oncogene ERG. The goal of the current study was to complete the characterization of these ERG-overexpressing prostate cancers. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays, we screened 101 prostate cancers, identifying 34 cases (34%) with the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion. Seven cases demonstrated ERG rearrangement by fluorescence in situ hybridization without the presence of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion messenger RNA transcripts. Screening for known 5′ partners, we determined that three cases harbored the SLC45A3-ERG fusion. To discover novel 5′ partners in these ERG-overexpressing and ERG-rearranged cases, we used paired-end RNA sequencing. We first confirmed the utility of this approach by identifying the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion in a known positive prostate cancer case and then discovered a novel fusion involving the androgen-inducible tumor suppressor, NDRG1 (N-myc downstream regulated gene 1), and ERG in two cases. Unlike TMPRSS2-ERG and SCL45A3-ERG fusions, the NDRG1-ERG fusion is predicted to encode a chimeric protein. Like TMPRSS2, SCL45A3 and NDRG1 are inducible not only by androgen but also by estrogen. This study demonstrates that most ERG-overexpressing prostate cancers harbor hormonally regulated TMPRSS2-ERG, SLC45A3-ERG, or NDRG1-ERG fusions. Broader implications of this study support the use of RNA sequencing to discover novel cancer translocations.
Recent reports indicate that prostate cancers (CaP) frequently over‐express the potential oncogenes, ERG or ETV1. Many cases have chromosomal rearrangements leading to the fusion of the 5′ end of the androgen‐regulated serine protease TMPRSS2 (21q22.2) to the 3′ end of either ERG (21q22.3) or ETV1 (7p21.3). The consequence of these rearrangements is aberrant androgen receptor‐driven expression of the potential oncogenes, ETV1 or ERG.
To determine the frequency of rearrangements involving TMPRSS2, ERG, or ETV1 genes in CaP of varying Gleason grades through fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) on CaP tissue microarrays (TMAs).
Two independent assays, a TMPRSS2 break‐apart assay and a three‐colour gene fusion FISH assay were applied to TMAs. FISH positive cases were confirmed by reverse transcriptase (RT) PCR and DNA sequence analysis.
A total of 106/196 (54.1%) cases were analysed by FISH. None of the five benign prostatic hyperplasia cases analysed exhibited these gene rearrangements. TMPRSS2:ERG fusion was found more frequently in moderate to poorly differentiated tumours (35/86, 40.7%) than in well differentiated tumours (1/15, 6.7%, p = 0.017). TMPRSS2:ETV1 gene fusions were not detected in any of the cases tested. TMPRSS2:ERG fusion product was verified by RT‐PCR followed by DNA sequencing in 7/7 randomly selected positive cases analysed.
This study indicates that TMPRSS2:ERG gene rearrangements in CaP may be used as a diagnostic tool to identify prognostically relevant sub‐classifications of these cancers.
; prostate cancer; FISH
Although chemotherapy for prostate cancer (PCa) can improve patient survival, some tumours are chemo-resistant. Tumour molecular profiles may help identify the mechanisms of drug action and identify potential prognostic biomarkers. We performed in vivo transcriptome profiling of pre- and post-treatment prostatic biopsies from patients with advanced hormone-naive prostate cancer treated with docetaxel chemotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) with an aim to identify the mechanisms of drug action and identify prognostic biomarkers.
RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed on biopsies from four patients before and ~22 weeks after docetaxel and ADT initiation. Gene fusion products and differentially-regulated genes between treatment pairs were identified using TopHat and pathway enrichment analyses undertaken. Publically available datasets were interrogated to perform survival analyses on the gene signatures identified using cBioportal.
A number of genomic rearrangements were identified including the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion and 3 novel gene fusions involving the ETS family of transcription factors in patients, both pre and post chemotherapy. In total, gene expression analyses showed differential expression of at least 2 fold in 575 genes in post-chemotherapy biopsies. Of these, pathway analyses identified a panel of 7 genes (ADAM7, FAM72B, BUB1B, CCNB1, CCNB2, TTK, CDK1), including a cell cycle-related geneset, that were differentially-regulated following treatment with docetaxel and ADT. Using cBioportal to interrogate the MSKCC-Prostate Oncogenome Project dataset we observed a statistically-significant reduction in disease-free survival of patients with tumours exhibiting alterations in gene expression of the above panel of 7 genes (p = 0.015).
Here we report on the first “real-time” in vivo RNA-Seq-based transcriptome analysis of clinical PCa from pre- and post-treatment TRUSS-guided biopsies of patients treated with docetaxel chemotherapy plus ADT. We identify a chemotherapy-driven PCa transcriptome profile which includes the down-regulation of important positive regulators of cell cycle progression. A 7 gene signature biomarker panel has also been identified in high-risk prostate cancer patients to be of prognostic value. Future prospective study is warranted to evaluate the clinical value of this panel.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-977) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Prostate cancer; Androgen deprivation therapy; Biomarkers; Docetaxel; Cell cycle
This study aimed to evaluate the association of recurrent molecular alterations in prostate cancer, such as ERG rearrangements and phosphatase and tensin homolog gene (PTEN) deletions, with oncologic outcomes in patients with prostate cancer treated with brachytherapy.
Ninety-two men underwent I-125 brachytherapy with a 145 Gy delivered dose between 2000 and 2008. Pretreatment prostate biopsies were analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and FISH for ERG rearrangement and overexpression, PTEN deletion, and expression loss. Univariable and multivariable Cox-regression analyses evaluated association of ERG and PTEN status with biochemical recurrence (BCR).
Within a median follow-up of 73 months, 11% of patients experienced BCR. Of 80 samples with both IHC and FISH performed for ERG, 46 (57.8%) demonstrated rearrangement by FISH and 45 (56.3%) by IHC. Of 77 samples with both IHC and FISH for PTEN, 14 (18.2%) had PTEN deletion by FISH and 22 (28.6%) by IHC. No significant associations were found between ERG, PTEN status, and clinicopathologic features. Patients with concurrent ERG rearrangement and PTEN deletion demonstrated significantly worse relapse-free survival rates compared with those with ERG or PTEN wild type (P < 0.01). In multivariable Cox regression analysis adjusted for the effects of standard clinicopathologic features, combined ERG rearranged and PTEN deletion was independently associated with BCR (HR = 2.6; P = 0.02).
Concurrent ERG rearrangement and PTEN loss was independently associated with time to BCR in patients undergoing brachytherapy. Future studies are needed to validate prostate cancer molecular subtyping for risk stratification.
Identifying patients in the ERG-rearranged/PTEN-deleted molecular subclass may improve treatment personalization.
Prostate cancer (PrCa) has a high incidence in Western countries and at present, there is no cure for hormone refractory prostate cancer. Transgenic mouse models have proven useful for understanding mechanisms of prostate carcinogenesis. The characterization of genetically modified mouse PrCa models using high-throughput genomic analyses provides important information to guide appropriate experiment applications for such model.
We have analyzed the transcriptome of the hormone refractory and highly metastatic Fetal Globin-SV40/T-antigen (Gγ-globin-Tag) transgenic mouse model for PrCa compared to normal mouse prostate tissue. Gene expression patterns found in Gγ-globin-Tag mouse prostate tumors were compared with publicly available human localized and metastatic prostate tumors (GEO accession # GSE3325) through hierarchical cluster analysis, Pearson’s rank correlation coefficient, and Self Organizing Feature Maps (SOM) analyses.
Gγ-globin-Tag tumors clustered closely with human metastatic tumors and gene expression patterns had a significant correlation (P < 0.01), unlike human localized primary tumors (P > 0.6). Bioinformatic analyses identified deregulated genetic pathways and networks in Gγ-globin-Tag tumors, which displayed similarities to alterations in human PrCa. Changes in the expression of genes involved in DNA replication and repair (Rb1, p53, Myc, PCNA, DNMT3A) and growth factor signaling pathways (TGFβ2, ERK1/2, NRas, and Notch1) are deregulated in the Gγ-globin-Tag tumors, suggesting their key role in the oncogenic process. Identification of an enrichment of putative binding sites for transcription factors revealed eight transcription factors that may be important in Gγ-globin-Tag carcinogenesis, including SP1, NF-Y, CREB, Elk1, and E2F. Novel genes related to microtubule regulation were also identified in Gγ-globin-Tag tumors as potentially important candidate targets for PrCa. Overexpression of stathmin-1, whose expression was increased in human metastatic prostate tumors, was validated in Gγ-globin-Tag tumors by immunohistochemistry. This protein belongs to the SV40/T-antigen cancer signature identified in previous studies in prostate, breast, and lung cancer mouse models.
Our results show that the Gγ-globin-Tag model for hormone refractory PrCa shares important features with aggressive, metastatic human PrCa. Given the role of stathmin-1 in the destabilization of microtubles and taxane resistance, the Gγ-globin-Tag model and other SV40/T-antigen driven transgenic models may be useful for testing potential therapies directed at stathmin-1 in human prostate tumors.
prostate cancer; transgenic mouse; gene expression; microarrays; stathmin-1
Alterations in the highly penetrant cancer susceptibility gene BRCA1 are responsible for the majority of hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancers. However, the number of detected germline mutations has been lower than expected based upon genetic linkage data. Undetected deleterious mutations in the BRCA1 gene in some high-risk families could be due to the presence of intragenic rearrangements as deletions, duplications or insertions spanning whole exons. Standard PCR-based screening methods are mainly focused on detecting point mutations and small insertions/deletions, but large rearrangements might escape detection.
The purpose of this study was to determine the type and frequency of large genomic rearrangements in the BRCA1 gene in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer cases in the Czech Republic.
Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) was used to examine BRCA1 rearrangements in 172 unrelated patients with hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer syndrome without finding deleterious mutation after complete screening of whole coding regions of BRCA1/2 genes. Positive MLPA results were confirmed and located by long-range PCR. The breakpoints of detected rearrangements were characterized by sequencing.
Six different large deletions in the BRCA1 gene were identified in 10 out of 172 unrelated high-risk patients: exons 1A/1B and 2 deletion; partial deletion of exon 11 and exon 12; exons 18 and 19 deletion; exon 20 deletion; exons 21 and 22 deletion; and deletion of exons 5 to 14. The breakpoint junctions were localized and further characterized. Destabilization and global unfolding of the mutated BRCT domains explain the molecular and genetic defects associated with the exon 20 in-frame deletion and the exon 21 and 22 in-frame deletion, respectively.
Using MLPA, mutations were detected in 6% of high-risk patients previously designated as BRCA1/2 mutation-negative. The breakpoints of five out of six large deletions detected in Czech patients are novel. Screening for large genomic rearrangements in the BRCA1 gene in the Czech high-risk patients is highly supported by this study.