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1.  Unraveling the clonal hierarchy of somatic genomic aberrations 
Genome Biology  2014;15(8):439.
Defining the chronology of molecular alterations may identify milestones in carcinogenesis. To unravel the temporal evolution of aberrations from clinical tumors, we developed CLONET, which upon estimation of tumor admixture and ploidy infers the clonal hierarchy of genomic aberrations. Comparative analysis across 100 sequenced genomes from prostate, melanoma, and lung cancers established diverse evolutionary hierarchies, demonstrating the early disruption of tumor-specific pathways. The analyses highlight the diversity of clonal evolution within and across tumor types that might be informative for risk stratification and patient selection for targeted therapies. CLONET addresses heterogeneous clinical samples seen in the setting of precision medicine.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0439-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4167267  PMID: 25160065
2.  Recurrent Prostate Cancer Genomic Alterations Predict Response to Brachytherapy Treatment 
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.
PMCID: PMC4083705  PMID: 24515272
3.  SLC45A3-ELK4 is a Novel and Frequent ETS Fusion Transcript in Prostate Cancer 
Cancer research  2009;69(7):2734-2738.
Chromosomal rearrangements account for all erythroblast transformation specific (ETS) family member gene fusions that have been reported in prostate cancer and have clinical, diagnostic and prognostic implications. Androgen-regulated genes account for the majority of the 5’ genomic regulatory promoter elements fused with ETS genes. TMPRSS2-ERG, TMPRSS2-ETV1 and SLC45A3-ERG rearrangements account for roughly 90% of ETS fusion prostate cancer. ELK4, another ETS family member, is androgen-regulated, involved in promoting cell growth, and highly expressed in a subset of prostate cancer, yet the mechanism of ELK4 over-expression is unknown. In this study, we identified a novel ETS family fusion transcript, SLC45A3-ELK4, and found it to be expressed in both benign prostate tissue and prostate cancer. We found high levels of SLC45A3-ELK4 mRNA restricted to a subset of prostate cancer samples. SLC45A3-ELK4 transcript can be detected at high levels in urine samples from men at risk for prostate cancer. Characterization of the fusion mRNA revealed a major variant in which SLC45A3 exon 1 is fused to ELK4 exon 2. Based on quantitative PCR analyses of DNA, unlike other ETS fusions described in prostate cancer, the expression of SLC45A3-ELK4 mRNA is not exclusive to cases harbouring a chromosomal rearrangement. Treatment of LNCaP cancer cells with a synthetic androgen (R1881) revealed that SLC45A3-ELK4, and not endogenous ELK4, mRNA expression is androgen-regulated. Altogether, our findings show that SLC45A3-ELK4 mRNA expression is heterogeneous, highly induced in a subset of prostate cancers, androgen-regulated, and most commonly occurs through a mechanism other than chromosomal rearrangement (e.g., trans-splicing).
PMCID: PMC4063441  PMID: 19293179
prostate cancer; ETS genes; splicing; SLC45A3; ELK4
4.  Punctuated Evolution of Prostate Cancer Genomes 
Cell  2013;153(3):666-677.
The analysis of exonic DNA from prostate cancers has identified recurrently mutated genes, but the spectrum of genome-wide alterations has not been profiled extensively in this disease. We sequenced the genomes of 57 prostate tumors and matched normal tissues to characterize somatic alterations and to study how they accumulate during oncogenesis and progression. By modeling the genesis of genomic rearrangements, we identified abundant DNA translocations and deletions that arise in a highly interdependent manner. This phenomenon, which we term “chromoplexy”, frequently accounts for the dysregulation of prostate cancer genes and appears to disrupt multiple cancer genes coordinately. Our modeling suggests that chromoplexy may induce considerable genomic derangement over relatively few events in prostate cancer and other neoplasms, supporting a model of punctuated cancer evolution. By characterizing the clonal hierarchy of genomic lesions in prostate tumors, we charted a path of oncogenic events along which chromoplexy may drive prostate carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3690918  PMID: 23622249
5.  Molecular Archeology: Unearthing Androgen Induced Structural Rearrangements in Prostate Cancer Genomes 
Cancer cell  2013;23(2):133-135.
In this issue of Cancer Cell, Weischenfeldt et al. report on whole genome sequencing of 11 early onset prostate cancers. Compared to elderly onset prostate cancer, these tumors demonstrate enrichment for androgen driven structural rearrangements involving ETS family genes. This study confirms observations that prostate cancer manifests discrete genomic subclasses.
PMCID: PMC3630373  PMID: 23410968
6.  Epigenetic repression of miR-31 disrupts androgen receptor homeostasis and contributes to prostate cancer progression 
Cancer research  2012;73(3):1232-1244.
Androgen receptor (AR) signaling plays a critical role in prostate cancer (PCA) pathogenesis. Yet, the regulation of AR signaling remains elusive. Even with stringent androgen deprivation therapy, AR signaling persists. Here, our data suggest that there is a complex interaction between the expression of the tumor suppressor miRNA, miR-31 and AR signaling. We examined primary and metastatic PCA and found that miR-31 expression was reduced as a result of promoter hypermethylation and importantly, the levels of miR-31 expression was inversely correlated with the aggressiveness of the disease. As the expression of AR and miR-31 was inversely correlated in the cell lines, our study further suggested that miR-31 and AR could mutually repress each other. Upregulation of miR-31 effectively suppressed AR expression through multiple mechanisms and inhibited PCA growth in vivo. Notably, we found that miR-31 targeted AR directly at a site located in the coding region, which was commonly mutated in PCA. Additionally, miR-31 suppressed cell cycle regulators, including E2F1, E2F2, EXO1, FOXM1, and MCM2. Together, our findings suggest a novel AR regulatory mechanism mediated through miR-31 expression. The downregulation of miR-31 may disrupt cellular homeostasis and contribute to the evolution and progression of PCA. We provide implications for epigenetic treatment and support clinical development of detecting miR-31 promoter methylation as a novel biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3563734  PMID: 23233736
prostate cancer; androgen receptor; miR-31; DNA hypermethylation; biomarker
7.  Large oncosomes mediate intercellular transfer of functional microRNA 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(22):3526-3536.
Prostate cancer cells release atypically large extracellular vesicles (EVs), termed large oncosomes, which may play a role in the tumor microenvironment by transporting bioactive molecules across tissue spaces and through the blood stream. In this study, we applied a novel method for selective isolation of large oncosomes applicable to human platelet-poor plasma, where the presence of caveolin-1-positive large oncosomes identified patients with metastatic disease. This procedure was also used to validate results of a miRNA array performed on heterogeneous populations of EVs isolated from tumorigenic RWPE-2 prostate cells and from isogenic non-tumorigenic RWPE-1 cells. The results showed that distinct classes of miRNAs are expressed at higher levels in EVs derived from the tumorigenic cells in comparison to their non-tumorigenic counterpart. Large oncosomes enhanced migration of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), an effect that was increased by miR-1227, a miRNA abundant in large oncosomes produced by RWPE-2 cells. Our findings suggest that large oncosomes in the circulation report metastatic disease in patients with prostate cancer, and that this class of EV harbors functional molecules that may play a role in conditioning the tumor microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3906338  PMID: 24091630
amoeboid blebbing; microvesicle; filtration; large oncosome; exosome; extracellular vesicles; miRNA; prostate cancer
8.  Next Generation Sequencing of Prostate Cancer from a Patient Identifies a Deficiency of Methylthioadenosine Phosphorylase (MTAP), an Exploitable Tumor Target 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(3):775-783.
Castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and neuroendocrine carcinoma of the prostate are invariably fatal diseases for which only palliative therapies exist. As part of a prostate tumour sequencing program, a patient tumour was analyzed using Illumina genome sequencing and a matched renal capsule tumour xenograft was generated. Both tumour and xenograft had a homozygous 9p21 deletion spanning the MTAP, CDKN2 and ARF genes. It is rare for this deletion to occur in primary prostate tumours yet approximately 10% express decreased levels of MTAP mRNA. Decreased MTAP expression is a prognosticator for poor outcome. Moreover, it appears that this deletion is more common in CRPC than in primary prostate cancer. We show for the first time that treatment with methylthioadenosine and high dose 6-thioguanine causes marked inhibition of a patient derived neuroendocrine xenograft growth while protecting the host from 6-thioguanine toxicity. This therapeutic approach can be applied to other MTAP-deficient human cancers since deletion or hypermethylation of the MTAP gene occurs in a broad spectrum of tumours at high frequency. The combination of genome sequencing and patient-derived xenografts can identify candidate therapeutic agents and evaluate them for personalized oncology.
PMCID: PMC3691697  PMID: 22252602
massively parallel sequencing; MTAP; patient-derived xenograft; genitourinary cancers: prostate; animal models of cancer; gene expression profiling; functional genomics; xenograft models
9.  Exome sequencing identifies recurrent SPOP, FOXA1 and MED12 mutations in prostate cancer 
Nature genetics  2012;44(6):685-689.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide and causes over 250,000 deaths each year1. Overtreatment of indolent disease also results in significant morbidity2. Common genetic alterations in prostate cancer include losses of NKX3.1 (8p21)3,4 and PTEN (10q23)5,6, gains of the androgen receptor gene (AR)7,8 and fusion of ETS-family transcription factor genes with androgen-responsive promoters9–11. Recurrent somatic base-pair substitutions are believed to be less contributory in prostate tumorigenesis12,13 but have not been systematically analyzed in large cohorts. Here we sequenced the exomes of 112 prostate tumor/normal pairs. Novel recurrent mutations were identified in multiple genes, including MED12 and FOXA1. SPOP was the most frequently mutated gene, with mutations involving the SPOP substrate binding cleft in 6–15% of tumors across multiple independent cohorts. SPOP-mutant prostate cancers lacked ETS rearrangements and exhibited a distinct pattern of genomic alterations. Thus, SPOP mutations may define a new molecular subtype of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3673022  PMID: 22610119
10.  Impact of constitutional copy number variants on biological pathway evolution 
Inherited Copy Number Variants (CNVs) can modulate the expression levels of individual genes. However, little is known about how CNVs alter biological pathways and how this varies across different populations. To trace potential evolutionary changes of well-described biological pathways, we jointly queried the genomes and the transcriptomes of a collection of individuals with Caucasian, Asian or Yoruban descent combining high-resolution array and sequencing data.
We implemented an enrichment analysis of pathways accounting for CNVs and genes sizes and detected significant enrichment not only in signal transduction and extracellular biological processes, but also in metabolism pathways. Upon the estimation of CNV population differentiation (CNVs with different polymorphism frequencies across populations), we evaluated that 22% of the pathways contain at least one gene that is proximal to a CNV (CNV-gene pair) that shows significant population differentiation. The majority of these CNV-gene pairs belong to signal transduction pathways and 6% of the CNV-gene pairs show statistical association between the copy number states and the transcript levels.
The analysis suggested possible examples of positive selection within individual populations including NF-kB, MAPK signaling pathways, and Alu/L1 retrotransposition factors. Altogether, our results suggest that constitutional CNVs may modulate subtle pathway changes through specific pathway enzymes, which may become fixed in some populations.
PMCID: PMC3563492  PMID: 23342974
CNVs; Pathways; Pathway evolution; Population genetics; eQTL
11.  Molecular Characterization of Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer and Identification of New Drug Targets 
Cancer discovery  2011;1(6):487-495.
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is an aggressive subtype of prostate cancer that most commonly evolves from preexisting prostate adenocarcinoma (PCA). Using Next Generation RNA-sequencing and oligonucleotide arrays, we profiled 7 NEPC, 30 PCA, and 5 benign prostate tissue (BEN), and validated findings on tumors from a large cohort of patients (37 NEPC, 169 PCA, 22 BEN) using IHC and FISH. We discovered significant overexpression and gene amplification of AURKA and MYCN in 40% of NEPC and 5% of PCA, respectively, and evidence that that they cooperate to induce a neuroendocrine phenotype in prostate cells. There was dramatic and enhanced sensitivity of NEPC (and MYCN overexpressing PCA) to Aurora kinase inhibitor therapy both in vitro and in vivo, with complete suppression of neuroendocrine marker expression following treatment. We propose that alterations in Aurora kinase A and N-myc are involved in the development of NEPC, and future clinical trials will help determine from the efficacy of Aurora kinase inhibitor therapy.
PMCID: PMC3290518  PMID: 22389870
neuroendocrine prostate cancer; aurora kinase A; n-myc; drug targets
12.  DIAPH3 governs the cellular transition to the amoeboid tumour phenotype 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2012;4(8):743-760.
Therapies for most malignancies are generally ineffective once metastasis occurs. While tumour cells migrate through tissues using diverse strategies, the signalling networks controlling such behaviours in human tumours are poorly understood. Here we define a role for the Diaphanous-related formin-3 (DIAPH3) as a non-canonical regulator of metastasis that restrains conversion to amoeboid cell behaviour in multiple cancer types. The DIAPH3 locus is close to RB1, within a narrow consensus region of deletion on chromosome 13q in prostate, breast and hepatocellular carcinomas. DIAPH3 silencing in human carcinoma cells destabilized microtubules and induced defective endocytic trafficking, endosomal accumulation of EGFR, and hyperactivation of EGFR/MEK/ERK signalling. Silencing also evoked amoeboid properties, increased invasion and promoted metastasis in mice. In human tumours, DIAPH3 down-regulation was associated with aggressive or metastatic disease. DIAPH3-silenced cells were sensitive to MEK inhibition, but showed reduced sensitivity to EGFR inhibition. These findings have implications for understanding mechanisms of metastasis, and suggest that identifying patients with chromosomal deletions at DIAPH3 may have prognostic value.
PMCID: PMC3494074  PMID: 22593025
cytoskeleton; EGFR; endocytosis; mesenchymal-to-amoeboid transition; metastasis
13.  TMPRSS2-ERG Fusion Prostate Cancer Heterogeneity: Clinical and Biologic Implications 
Urology  2007;70(4):630-633.
To characterize the clonality of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion in multifocal prostate cancer.
From 80 consecutive radical prostatectomy specimens, we identified 32 cases with multiple spatially separate tumors. In each case we assessed 2–3 tumor foci for TMPRSS2-ERG fusion using an ERG break-apart interphase fluorescence in-situ hybridization assay.
Individual tumor foci showed homogeneity for fusion status (intrafocal clonal homogeneity). In 59% (19/32) of cases, all foci within a case had the same fusion status (interfocal homogeneity): in 80% (15/19) of these cases no foci had fusion, and in 20% (4/19) all foci had fusion. 41% (13/32) of cases demonstrated heterogeneity for fusion status within a case (interfocal clonal heterogeneity).
We have demonstrated interfocal heterogeneity and intrafocal homogeneity for TMPRSS2-ERG fusion in prostate cancer with multiple tumors. These findings support the multiclonal nature of prostate cancer with clinical implications for needle biopsy strategies and the development of urine-based screening tests.
PMCID: PMC3198826  PMID: 17991527
14.  The genomic complexity of primary human prostate cancer 
Nature  2011;470(7333):214-220.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of male cancer deaths in the United States. Here we present the complete sequence of seven primary prostate cancers and their paired normal counterparts. Several tumors contained complex chains of balanced rearrangements that occurred within or adjacent to known cancer genes. Rearrangement breakpoints were enriched near open chromatin, androgen receptor and ERG DNA binding sites in the setting of the ETS gene fusion TMPRSS2-ERG, but inversely correlated with these regions in tumors lacking ETS fusions. This observation suggests a link between chromatin or transcriptional regulation and the genesis of genomic aberrations. Three tumors contained rearrangements that disrupted CADM2, and four harbored events disrupting either PTEN (unbalanced events), a prostate tumor suppressor, or MAGI2 (balanced events), a PTEN interacting protein not previously implicated in prostate tumorigenesis. Thus, genomic rearrangements may arise from transcriptional or chromatin aberrancies to engage prostate tumorigenic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3075885  PMID: 21307934
15.  Testing mutual exclusivity of ETS rearranged prostate cancer 
Prostate cancer is a clinically heterogeneous and multifocal disease. More than 80% of patients with prostate cancer harbor multiple geographically discrete cancer foci at the time of diagnosis. Emerging data suggest that these foci are molecularly distinct consistent with the hypothesis that they arise as independent clones. One of the strongest arguments is the heterogeneity observed in the status of E26 transformation specific (ETS) rearrangements between discrete tumor foci. The clonal evolution of individual prostate cancer foci based on recent studies demonstrates intertumoral heterogeneity with intratumoral homogeneity. The issue of multifocality and interfocal heterogeneity is important and has not been fully elucidated due to lack of the systematic evaluation of ETS rearrangements in multiple tumor sites. The current study investigates the frequency of multiple gene rearrangements within the same focus and between different cancer foci. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assays were designed to detect the four most common recurrent ETS gene rearrangements. In a cohort of 88 men with localized prostate cancer, we found ERG, ETV1, and ETV5 rearrangements in 51% (44/86), 6% (5/85), and 1% (1/86), respectively. None of the cases demonstrated ETV4 rearrangements. Mutual exclusiveness of ETS rearrangements was observed in the majority of cases; however, in six cases, we discovered multiple ETS or 5′ fusion partner rearrangements within the same tumor focus. In conclusion, we provide further evidence for prostate cancer tumor heterogeneity with the identification of multiple concurrent gene rearrangements.
PMCID: PMC3130188  PMID: 20975660
ETS (E26 transformation specific) rearrangements; TMPRSS2-ERG; heterogeneity; prostate cancer
16.  Rearrangements of the RAF Kinase Pathway in Prostate Cancer, Gastric Cancer and Melanoma 
Nature medicine  2010;16(7):793-798.
While recurrent gene fusions involving ETS family transcription factors are common in prostate cancer, their products are considered “undruggable” by conventional approaches. Recently, rare “targetable” gene fusions (involving the ALK kinase), have been identified in 1–5% of lung cancers1, suggesting that similar rare gene fusions may occur in other common epithelial cancers including prostate cancer. Here we employed paired-end transcriptome sequencing to screen ETS rearrangement negative prostate cancers for targetable gene fusions and identified the SLC45A3-BRAF and ESRP1-RAF1 gene fusions. Expression of SLC45A3-BRAF or ESRP1-RAF1 in prostate cells induced a neoplastic phenotype that was sensitive to RAF and MEK inhibitors. Screening a large cohort of patients, we found that although rare (1–2%), recurrent rearrangements in the RAF pathway tend to occur in advanced prostate cancers, gastric cancers, and melanoma. Taken together, our results emphasize the importance of RAF rearrangements in cancer, suggest that RAF and MEK inhibitors may be useful in a subset of gene fusion harboring solid tumors, and demonstrate that sequencing of tumor transcriptomes and genomes may lead to the identification of rare targetable fusions across cancer types.
PMCID: PMC2903732  PMID: 20526349
17.  Estrogen-dependent signaling in a molecularly distinct subclass of aggressive prostate cancer 
The majority of prostate cancers harbor gene fusions of the 5′-untranslated region of the androgen-regulated transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2) promoter with erythroblast transformation specific (ETS) transcription factor family members. The common v-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog [avian] (TMPRSS2–ERG) fusion is associated with a more aggressive clinical phenotype, implying the existence of a distinct subclass of prostate cancer defined by this fusion.
We used cDNA-mediated annealing, selection, ligation, and extension to determine the expression profiles of 6144 transcriptionally informative genes in archived biopsy samples from 455 prostate cancer patients in the Swedish Watchful Waiting cohort (1987–1999) and the US-based Physicians Health Study cohort (1983–2003). A gene expression signature for prostate cancers with the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion was determined using partitioning and classification models and used in computational functional analysis. Cell proliferation and TMPRSS2-ERG expression in androgen receptor–negative (NCI-H660) and –positive (VCaP-ERβ) prostate cancer cells after treatment with vehicle or estrogenic compounds were assessed by viability assays and quantitative polymerase chain reaction, respectively. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We identified an 87-gene expression signature that distinguishes TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer as a discrete molecular entity (area under the curve = 0.80, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.792 to 0.81; P<.001). Computational analysis suggested that this fusion signature was associated with estrogen receptor (ER) signaling. Viability of NCI-H660 cells decreased after treatment with estrogen (viability normalized to day 0, estrogen vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 2.04 vs 3.40, difference = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.62) or ERβ agonist (ERβ agonist vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 1.86 vs 3.40, difference = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.39 to 1.69) but increased after ERα agonist treatment (ERα agonist vs vehicle at day 8, mean = 4.36 vs 3.40, difference = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.68 to 1.23). Similarly, expression of TMPRSS2-ERG decreased after ERβ agonist treatment (fold change over internal control, ERβ agonist vs vehicle at 24 hours, NCI H660, mean = 0.57-fold vs 1.0-fold, difference = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.29-fold to 0.57-fold) and increased after ERα agonist treatment (ERα agonist vs vehicle at 24 hours, mean = 5.63-fold vs 1.0-fold, difference = 4.63-fold, 95% CI = 4.34-fold to 4.92-fold).
TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer is a distinct molecular subclass. TMPRSS2-ERG expression is regulated by a novel ER-dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3073404  PMID: 18505969
18.  ERG rearrangement metastasis patterns in locally advanced prostate cancer 
Urology  2010;75(4):762-767.
A hallmark of prostate cancer (PCa) is that distinct tumor foci may arise independently, which has important biologic and clinical implications. Recent studies characterizing ERG rearranged PCa possessing intrafocal homogeneity but interfocal heterogeneity support this hypothesis.
Using ERG rearrangement as marker of clonality, we interrogated multifocal PCa to determine its predilection for metastasis.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We studied 26 patients who underwent prostatectomy and lymphadenectomy with at least two distinct PCa foci and one lymph node (LN) metastasis.
Each focus was assessed for size, Gleason score, ERG rearrangement, and TMPRSS2-ERG transcript.
15/26 cases exhibited interfocal homogeneity with regard to ERG rearrangement (i.e., presence versus absence of ERG rearrangement). ERG rearrangement was present in all foci for 6 and absent in all foci for 9 cases. Two cases revealed interfocal heterogeneity with regard to rearrangement mechanism (i.e., rearrangement through insertion or deletion). 8/26 cases revealed interfocal heterogeneity with regard to rearrangement status. In all cases with at least one ERG rearranged focus, we found the corresponding LN metastasis harboring an ERG rearrangement. Interestingly, in a subset of cases the rearrangement status in the LN did not correspond to size or Gleason score. All but two ERG rearranged foci had detectable TMPRSS2-ERG transcript levels.
When multifocal PCa demonstrates both ERG positive and negative foci, the positive foci have a greater predilection for metastasis. Larger studies are needed to confirm the potential additional risk an ERG rearranged focus confers on the likelihood of disease progression.
PMCID: PMC2850965  PMID: 20018353
prostate cancer; metastatic; ERG rearrangements; TMPRSS2-ERG
19.  A Computational Framework Discovers New Copy Number Variants with Functional Importance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17539.
Structural variants which cause changes in copy numbers constitute an important component of genomic variability. They account for 0.7% of genomic differences in two individual genomes, of which copy number variants (CNVs) are the largest component. A recent population-based CNV study revealed the need of better characterization of CNVs, especially the small ones (<500 bp).We propose a three step computational framework (Identification of germline Changes in Copy Number or IgC2N) to discover and genotype germline CNVs. First, we detect candidate CNV loci by combining information across multiple samples without imposing restrictions to the number of coverage markers or to the variant size. Secondly, we fine tune the detection of rare variants and infer the putative copy number classes for each locus. Last, for each variant we combine the relative distance between consecutive copy number classes with genetic information in a novel attempt to estimate the reference model bias. This computational approach is applied to genome-wide data from 1250 HapMap individuals. Novel variants were discovered and characterized in terms of size, minor allele frequency, type of polymorphism (gains, losses or both), and mechanism of formation. Using data generated for a subset of individuals by a 42 million marker platform, we validated the majority of the variants with the highest validation rate (66.7%) was for variants of size larger than 1 kb. Finally, we queried transcriptomic data from 129 individuals determined by RNA-sequencing as further validation and to assess the functional role of the new variants. We investigated the possible enrichment for variant's regulatory effect and found that smaller variants (<1 Kb) are more likely to regulate gene transcript than larger variants (p-value = 2.04e-08). Our results support the validity of the computational framework to detect novel variants relevant to disease susceptibility studies and provide evidence of the importance of genetic variants in regulatory network studies.
PMCID: PMC3066184  PMID: 21479260
20.  ERG Cooperates with Androgen Receptor in Regulating Trefoil Factor 3 in Prostate Cancer Disease Progression123 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(12):1031-1040.
To elucidate the role of ETS gene fusions in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), we characterized the transcriptome of 54 CRPC tumor samples from men with locally advanced or metastatic disease. Trefoil factor 3 (TFF3) emerged as the most highly differentially regulated gene with respect to ERG rearrangement status and resistance to hormone ablation therapy. Conventional chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-polymerase chain reaction and ChIP followed by DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) revealed direct binding of ERG to ETS binding sites in the TFF3 promoter in ERG-rearranged prostate cancer cell lines. These results were confirmed in ERG-rearranged hormone-naive prostate cancer (HNPC) and CRPC tissue samples. Functional studies demonstrated that ERG has an inhibitory effect on TFF3 expression in hormone-naive cancer but not in the castration-resistant state. In addition, we provide evidence suggesting an effect of androgen receptor signaling on ERG-regulated TFF3 expression. Furthermore, TFF3 overexpression enhances ERG-mediated cell invasion in CRPC prostate cancer cells. Taken together, our findings reveal a novel mechanism for enhanced tumor cell aggressiveness resulting from ERG rearrangement in the castration-resistant setting through TFF3 gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3003138  PMID: 21170267
21.  TMPRSS2‐ETS fusion prostate cancer: biological and clinical implications 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2007;60(11):1185-1186.
Commentary on the paper by Rajput et al (see page 1238)
PMCID: PMC2095481  PMID: 17965219
erg; gene fusion; prognosis; prostate cancer; tmprss2
22.  FusionSeq: a modular framework for finding gene fusions by analyzing paired-end RNA-sequencing data 
Genome Biology  2010;11(10):R104.
We have developed FusionSeq to identify fusion transcripts from paired-end RNA-sequencing. FusionSeq includes filters to remove spurious candidate fusions with artifacts, such as misalignment or random pairing of transcript fragments, and it ranks candidates according to several statistics. It also has a module to identify exact sequences at breakpoint junctions. FusionSeq detected known and novel fusions in a specially sequenced calibration data set, including eight cancers with and without known rearrangements.
PMCID: PMC3218660  PMID: 20964841
23.  The landscape of somatic copy-number alteration across human cancers 
Nature  2010;463(7283):899-905.
A powerful way to discover key genes playing causal roles in oncogenesis is to identify genomic regions that undergo frequent alteration in human cancers. Here, we report high-resolution analyses of somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs) from 3131 cancer specimens, belonging largely to 26 histological types. We identify 158 regions of focal SCNA that are altered at significant frequency across multiple cancer types, of which 122 cannot be explained by the presence of a known cancer target gene located within these regions. Several gene families are enriched among these regions of focal SCNA, including the BCL2 family of apoptosis regulators and the NF-κB pathway. We show that cancer cells harboring amplifications surrounding the MCL1 and BCL2L1 anti-apoptotic genes depend upon expression of these genes for survival. Finally, we demonstrate that a large majority of SCNAs identified in individual cancer types are present in multiple cancer types.
PMCID: PMC2826709  PMID: 20164920
24.  Oncosome formation in prostate cancer: Association with a region of frequent chromosomal deletion in metastatic disease 
Cancer research  2009;69(13):5601-5609.
Oncosomes have recently been described as membrane-derived microvesicles secreted by cancer cells, which transfer oncogenic signals and protein complexes across cell boundaries. Here we demonstrate the rapid formation and secretion of oncosomes from DU145 and LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. Oncosome formation was stimulated by EGFR activation and also by over-expression of membrane-targeted Akt1. Microvesicles shed from prostate cancer cells contained numerous signal transduction proteins and were capable of activating rapid phospho-tyrosine and Akt pathway signaling, and stimulating proliferation and migration, in recipient tumor cells. They also induced a stromal reaction in recipient normal cells. Knockdown of the actin nucleating protein Diaphanous Related Formin 3 (DRF3/Dia2) by RNA interference enhanced rates of oncosome formation, indicating that these structures resemble, and may be identical to, non-apoptotic membrane blebs, a feature of the amoeboid form of cell motility. Analysis of primary and metastatic human prostate tumors using 100K SNP arrays revealed a significantly higher frequency of deletion of the locus encoding DRF3 (DIAPH3) in metastatic tumors (p=0.001) in comparison with organ-confined tumors. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) confirmed increased chromosomal loss of DIAPH3 in metastatic tumors in a different cohort of patients (p=0.006). These data suggest that microvesicles shed from prostate cancer cells can alter the tumor microenvironment in a manner that may promote disease progression. They also show that DRF3 is a physiologically relevant protein that appears to regulate this process.
PMCID: PMC2853876  PMID: 19549916
Metastasis; tumor microenvironment; actin; Diaphanous; Caveolin-1
25.  Antibody-Based Detection of ERG Rearrangement-Positive Prostate Cancer12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(7):590-598.
TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions occur in 50% of prostate cancers and result in the overexpression of a chimeric fusion transcript that encodes a truncated ERG product. Previous attempts to detect truncated ERG products have been hindered by a lack of specific antibodies. Here, we characterize a rabbit anti-ERG monoclonal antibody (clone EPR 3864; Epitomics, Burlingame, CA) using immunoblot analysis on prostate cancer cell lines, synthetic TMPRSS2-ERG constructs, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and immunofluorescence. We correlated ERG protein expression with the presence of ERG gene rearrangements in prostate cancer tissues using a combined immunohistochemistry (IHC) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. We independently evaluated two patient cohorts and observed ERG expression confined to prostate cancer cells and high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia associated with ERG-positive cancer, as well as vessels and lymphocytes (where ERG has a known biologic role). Image analysis of 131 cases demonstrated nearly 100% sensitivity for detecting ERG rearrangement prostate cancer, with only 2 (1.5%) of 131 cases demonstrating strong ERG protein expression without any known ERG gene fusion. The combined pathology evaluation of 207 patient tumors for ERG protein expression had 95.7% sensitivity and 96.5% specificity for determining ERG rearrangement prostate cancer. In conclusion, this study qualifies a specific anti-ERG antibody and demonstrates exquisite association between ERG gene rearrangement and truncated ERG protein product expression. Given the ease of performing IHC versus FISH, ERG protein expression may be useful for molecularly subtyping prostate cancer based on ERG rearrangement status and suggests clinical utility in prostate needle biopsy evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2907585  PMID: 20651988

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