Tosystematically evaluate ERG alterations in the multifocal tumor context by using whole-mount prostatectomy specimens of African American and Caucasian American patients matched for age, pathologic grade and stage. Oncogenic activation of the ETS-Related Gene (ERG) is the most common early genomic alteration in prostate cancer patients in Western countries. However, ERG alterations have not been systematically examined in African American patients with known higher risk of prostate cancer incidence and mortality.
ERG oncoprotein expression was analyzed in 91 Caucasian American and 91 African American prostate cancer patients matched for age, Gleason score and pathologic stage. A unique aspect of this study was the evaluation of ERG in whole-mount prostatectomy sections, minimizing sampling bias and allowing the careful assessment of ERG in the multifocal tumor context of prostate cancer.
The frequency of ERG positive prostate tumors was significantly greater among Caucasian Americans vs. African Americans when assessed in all tumor foci (41.9% vs. 23.9%, p<0.0001). Markedly higher frequency of the ERG oncoprotein expression was noted between the index tumors of Caucasian Americans (63.3%) and African Americans (28.6%). Of note, in African American patients the higher grade index tumors were predominantly ERG negative.
ERG typing of prostate tumors establishes a major difference between the index tumors of Caucasian and African American patients. ERG negative index tumors may indicate less favorable outcome in African American patients. This study underscores that typing of prostate tumors for ERG may enhance our understanding of biological differences between the examined ethnic groups.
Periodontitis is a highly prevalent, biofilm-mediated chronic inflammatory disease that results in the loss of the tooth-supporting tissues. It features two major clinical entities: chronic periodontitis, which is more common, and aggressive periodontitis, which usually has an early onset and a rapid progression. Natural killer (NK) cells are a distinct subgroup of lymphocytes that play a major role in the ability of the innate immune system to steer immune responses. NK cells are abundant in periodontitis lesions, and NK cell activation has been causally linked to periodontal tissue destruction. However, the exact mechanisms of their activation and their role in the pathophysiology of periodontitis are elusive. Here, we show that the predominant NK cell-activating molecule in periodontitis is CD2-like receptor activating cytotoxic cells (CRACC). We show that CRACC induction was significantly more pronounced in aggressive than chronic periodontitis and correlated positively with periodontal disease severity, subgingival levels of specific periodontal pathogens, and NK cell activation in vivo. We delineate how Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, an oral pathogen that is causally associated with aggressive periodontitis, indirectly induces CRACC on NK cells via activation of dendritic cells and subsequent interleukin 12 (IL-12) signaling. In contrast, we demonstrate that fimbriae from Porphyromonas gingivalis, a principal pathogen in chronic periodontitis, actively attenuate CRACC induction on NK cells. Our data suggest an involvement of CRACC-mediated NK cell activation in periodontal tissue destruction and point to a plausible distinction in the pathobiology of aggressive and chronic periodontitis that may help explain the accelerated tissue destruction in aggressive periodontitis.
More than 1,300,000 prostate needle biopsies are performed annually in the U.S. with up to 16% incidence of isolated high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN). HGPIN has low predictive value for identifying prostate cancer (PCA) on subsequent needle biopsies in PSA screened populations. In contemporary series, PCA is detected in about 20% of repeat biopsies following a diagnosis of HGPIN. Further, discrete histological subtypes of HGPIN with clinical implication in management have not been characterized. The TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion that has recently been described in PCA has also been demonstrated to occur in a subset of HGPIN. This may have significant clinical implications given that TMPRSS2-ERG fusion PCA is associated with a more aggressive clinical course.
In this study we assessed a series of HGPIN lesions and paired PCA for the presence of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion.
Fusion positive HGPIN was observed in 16% of the 143 number of lesions, and in all instances the matching cancer shared the same fusion pattern. 60% of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion PCA had fusion negative HGPIN.
Given the more aggressive nature of TMPRSS2-ERG PCA, the findings of this study raise the possibility that gene fusion positive HGPIN lesions are harbingers of more aggressive disease. To date, pathological, molecular and clinical parameters do not help stratify which men with HGPIN are at increased risk for a cancer diagnosis. Our results suggest that the detection of isolated TMPRSS2-ERG fusion HGPIN would improve the positive predictive value of finding TMPRSS2-ERG fusion PCA in subsequent biopsies.
Fusion of the TMPRSS2 prostate-specific gene with the ERG transcription factor is a putatively oncogenic gene rearrangement that is commonly found in prostate cancer tissue from men undergoing prostatectomy. However, the prevalence of the fusion was less common in TURP samples from a Swedish cohort of incidental prostate cancer patients followed by watchful waiting, raising the question as to whether the high prevalence in prostatectomy specimens reflects selection bias. We sought to determine the prevalence of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion among PSA-screened men undergoing prostate biopsy in the United States.
We studied 140 prostate biopsies from the same number of patients for TMPRSS2-ERG fusion status with a FISH assay. 134 (100 cancer and 34 benign) were assessable.
ERG gene rearrangement was detected in 46% prostate biopsies that were found to have prostate cancer and in 0% of benign prostate biopsies (p<0.0001). Evaluation of morphological features showed that cribriform growth, blue-tinged mucin, macronucleoli and collagenous micronodules were significantly more frequent in TMPRSS2-ERG fusion positive prostate cancer biopsies than gene fusion negative prostate cancer biopsies (p≤0.04). No significant association with Gleason score was detected. In addition, non-Caucasian patients were less likely to have positive fusion status (p=0.02).
This is the first prospective North American multi-center study to characterize the TMPRSS2-ERG prostate cancer prevalence in a cohort of patients undergoing needle biopsy irrespective of whether or not they subsequently undergo prostatectomy. Our results show that this gene rearrangement is common among North American men who have prostate cancer on biopsy, is absent in benign prostate biopsy, and is associated with specific morphological features. These findings indicate a need for prospective studies to evaluate the relationship of TMPRSS2-ERG rearrangement with clinical course of screening-detected prostate cancer in North American men, and development of non-invasive screening tests to detect TMPRSS2-ERG rearrangement.
The transcription factor SOX2 (3q26.3-q27) is an embryonic stem cell factor contributing to the induction of pluripotency in terminally differentiated somatic cells. Recently, amplification of the SOX2 gene locus has been described in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of different organ sites. Aim of this study was to investigate amplification and expression status of SOX2 in sinonasal carcinomas and to correlate the results with clinico-pathological data.
Materials and Methods
A total of 119 primary tumor samples from the sinonasal region were assessed by fluorescence in-situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for SOX2 gene amplification and protein expression, respectively. Of these, 59 were SSCs, 18 sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas (SNUC), 10 carcinomas associated with an inverted papilloma (INVC), 19 adenocarcinomas (AD) and 13 adenoid cystic carcinomas (ACC).
SOX2 amplifications were found in subsets of SCCs (37.5%), SNUCs (35.3%), INVCs (37.5%) and ADs (8.3%) but not in ACCs. SOX2 amplification resulted in increased protein expression. Patients with SOX2-amplified sinonasal carcinomas showed a significantly higher rate of tumor recurrences than SOX2 non-amplified tumors.
This is the first study assessing SOX2 amplification and expression in a large cohort of sinonasal carcinomas. As opposed to AD and ACC, SOX2 amplifications were detected in more than 1/3 of all SCCs, SNUCs and INVCs. We therefore suggest that SNUCs are molecularly closely related to SCCs and INVCs and that these entities represent a subgroup of sinonasal carcinomas relying on SOX2 acquisition during oncogenesis. SOX2 amplification appears to identify sinonasal carcinomas that are more likely to relapse after primary therapy, suggesting that these patients might benefit from a more aggressive therapy regime.
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
α-Methylacyl-CoA racemase (AMACR) is an enzyme that serves as a diagnostic biomarker of prostate cancer in clinical practice. Recent studies suggest that low AMACR expression is associated with biochemical recurrence and the development of fatal disease.
We conducted a prospective cohort study among 920 men aged 47–84 years, who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the Physicians’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study cohorts, and whose resected tissue specimens were available for immunohistochemical analysis. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to evaluate the association of AMACR expression with lethal prostate cancer over a 20-year follow-up period.
In total, 68 men died from prostate cancer, and an additional 18 developed bony metastases during follow-up. We found that lower AMACR intensity was associated with higher prostate-specific antigen levels (p=0.003) and more advanced clinical stage (p=0.06) at diagnosis, and a non-significant trend for higher risk of lethal outcomes. The hazard ratio comparing the lowest to the highest quartile of AMACR expression intensity was 1.53 ((95% CI: 0.86, 2.73), p-for-trend across quartiles=0.07); this trend was further attenuated after adjustment for age, Gleason score, stage and cohort with a hazard ratio of 1.24 (95% CI 0.69, 2.22), p-for-trend=0.23.
Low AMACR expression in primary tumor specimens was not independently associated with the development of metastatic and lethal prostate cancer after treatment over a 20-year follow-up period, after adjustment for important clinical covariates at diagnosis.
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC), also referred to as anaplastic prostate cancer, is a lethal tumor that most commonly arises in late stages of prostate adenocarcinoma (PCA) with predilection to metastasize to visceral organs. In the current study, we explore for evidence that Aurora kinase A (AURKA) and N-myc (MYCN) gene abnormalities are harbingers of treatment-related NEPC (t-NEPC). We studied primary prostate tissue from 15 hormone naïve PCAs, 51 castration-resistant prostate cancers, and 15 metastatic tumors from 72 patients at different stages of disease progression to t-NEPC, some with multiple specimens. Histologic evaluation, immunohistochemistry, and fluorescence in situ hybridization were performed and correlated with clinical variables. AURKA amplification was identified in overall 65% of PCAs (hormone naïve and treated) from patients that developed t-NEPC and in 86% of metastases. Concurrent amplification of MYCN was present in 70% of primary PCAs, 69% of treated PCAs, and 83% of metastases. In contrast, in an unselected PCA cohort, AURKA and MYCN amplifications were identified in only 5% of 169 cases. When metastatic t-NEPC was compared to primary PCA from the same patients, there was 100% concordance of ERG rearrangement, 100% concordance of AURKA amplification, and 60% concordance of MYCN amplification. In tumors with mixed features, there was also 100% concordance of ERG rearrangement and 94% concordance of AURKA and MYCN co-amplification between areas of NEPC and adenocarcinoma. AURKA and MYCN amplifications may be prognostic and predictive biomarkers, as they are harbingers of tumors at risk of progressing to t-NEPC after hormonal therapy.
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.
neuroendocrine prostate cancer; aurora kinase A; n-myc; drug targets
The erythroblast transformation-specific (ETS) family of transcription factors plays important roles in both physiological and pathological conditions. Even though many studies have focused on single ETS factors within a single tissue and within the context of specific promoters, the functional impact of multiple ETS members present within a specific cell type has not yet been investigated, especially in prostate cancer (PCa). As the most prominent gene rearrangement in PCa leads to the overexpression of the ETS-related gene (ERG), the aim of this study was to investigate whether ERG is part of a complex integrated transcriptional network that involves other ETS factors. More specifically, as the ETS family consists of 27 members, we focused our efforts initially on investigating whether ERG is associated with the three family members, ETS-1, ETS-2 and ETS variant gene-4 (ETV-4), in PCa as a proof of principle. Using western blot analysis, we show that ERG, ETS-1, ETS-2 and ETV-4 are expressed in PC3 cell nuclear extracts and in protein lysates prepared from human PCa prostatectomy specimens. Immunoprecipitations using an anti-ERG antibody were used with PC3 cell nuclear extracts as well as with a pooled protein lysate sample prepared from the PCa tissue samples of five patients. Importantly, our results revealed that ERG is specifically associated with ETS-2 and ETV-4, but not with ETS-1, in PC3 cell nuclear extracts and PCa tissue protein lysates. Our findings strongly support the notion that ERG is part of a complex integrated transcriptional network that involves other ETS factors, which are likely to cooperate or influence the activity of ERG in PCa. The functional impact of multiple ETS factors being associated with ERG in PCa requires further study, as it may provide insights into the mechanism by which ERG exerts its influence in PCa and may subsequently contribute to our understanding of the molecular basis of PCa.
ETS-related gene; ETS-2; ETS variant gene-4; ETS-1; prostate cancer
Prostate-specific antigen screening has led to enormous overtreatment of prostate cancer because of the inability to distinguish potentially lethal disease at diagnosis. We reasoned that by identifying an mRNA signature of Gleason grade, the best predictor of prognosis, we could improve prediction of lethal disease among men with moderate Gleason 7 tumors, the most common grade, and the most indeterminate in terms of prognosis.
Patients and Methods
Using the complementary DNA–mediated annealing, selection, extension, and ligation assay, we measured the mRNA expression of 6,100 genes in prostate tumor tissue in the Swedish Watchful Waiting cohort (n = 358) and Physicians' Health Study (PHS; n = 109). We developed an mRNA signature of Gleason grade comparing individuals with Gleason ≤ 6 to those with Gleason ≥ 8 tumors and applied the model among patients with Gleason 7 to discriminate lethal cases.
We built a 157-gene signature using the Swedish data that predicted Gleason with low misclassification (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.91); when this signature was tested in the PHS, the discriminatory ability remained high (AUC = 0.94). In men with Gleason 7 tumors, who were excluded from the model building, the signature significantly improved the prediction of lethal disease beyond knowing whether the Gleason score was 4 + 3 or 3 + 4 (P = .006).
Our expression signature and the genes identified may improve our understanding of the de-differentiation process of prostate tumors. Additionally, the signature may have clinical applications among men with Gleason 7, by further estimating their risk of lethal prostate cancer and thereby guiding therapy decisions to improve outcomes and reduce overtreatment.
Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies have revolutionized cancer research allowing the comprehensive study of cancer using high throughput deep sequencing methodologies. These methods detect genomic alterations, nucleotide substitutions, insertions, deletions and copy number alterations. SOLiD (Sequencing by Oligonucleotide Ligation and Detection, Life Technologies) is a promising technology generating billions of 50 bp sequencing reads. This robust technique, successfully applied in gene identification, might be helpful in detecting novel genes associated with cancer initiation and progression using formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue. This study’s aim was to compare the validity of whole exome sequencing of fresh-frozen vs. FFPE tumor tissue by normalization to normal prostatic FFPE tissue, obtained from the same patient. One primary fresh-frozen sample, corresponding FFPE prostate cancer sample and matched adjacent normal prostatic tissue was subjected to exome sequencing. The sequenced reads were mapped and compared. Our study was the first to show comparable exome sequencing results between FFPE and corresponding fresh-frozen cancer tissues using SOLiD sequencing. A prior study has been conducted comparing the validity of sequencing of FFPE vs. fresh frozen samples using other NGS platforms. Our validation further proves that FFPE material is a reliable source of material for whole exome sequencing.
exome sequencing; SOLiD4; prostate cancer; next-generation sequencing
The availability of well-annotated prostate tissue samples through biobanks is key for research. Whereas fresh-frozen tissue is well suited for a broad spectrum of molecular analyses, its storage and handling is complex and cost-intensive. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens (FFPE) are easy to handle and economic to store, but their applicability for molecular methods is restricted. The recently introduced Hepes-glutamic acid-buffer mediated Organic solvent Protection Effect (HOPE) is a promising alternative, which might have the potential to unite the benefits of FFPE and fresh-frozen specimen. Aim of the study was to compare HOPE-fixed, FFPE and fresh-frozen bio-specimens for their accessibility for diagnostic and research purposes.
10 prostate cancer samples were each preserved with HOPE, formalin, and liquid nitrogen and studied with in-situ and molecular methods. Samples were H&E stained, and assessed by immunohistochemistry (i.e. PSA, GOLPH2, p63) and FISH (i.e. ERG rearrangement). We assessed DNA integrity by PCR, using control genes ranging from 100 to 600 bp amplicon size. RNA integrity was assessed through qRT-PCR on three housekeeping genes (TBP, GAPDH, β-actin). Protein expression was analysed by performing western blot analysis using GOLPH2 and PSA antibodies.
Of the HOPE samples, morphologic quality of H&E sections, immunohistochemical staining, and the FISH assay was at least equal to FFPE tissue, and significantly better than the fresh-frozen specimens. DNA, RNA, and protein analysis of HOPE samples provided similar results as compared to fresh-frozen specimens. As expected, FFPE-samples were inferior for most of the molecular analyses.
This is the first study, comparatively assessing the suitability of these fixation methods for diagnostic and research utilization. Overall, HOPE-fixed bio-specimens combine the benefits of FFPE- and fresh-frozen samples. Results of this study have the potential to expand on contemporary prostate tissue biobanking approaches and can serve as a model for other organs and tumors.
HOPE technique; HOPE fixation; Prostate cancer
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.
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.
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.
prostate cancer; metastatic; ERG rearrangements; TMPRSS2-ERG
Prostate stem/progenitor cells function in glandular development and maintenance. They may be targets for tumor initiation, so characterization of these cells may have therapeutic implications. Cells from dissociated tissues that form spheres in vitro often represent stem/progenitor cells. A subset of human prostate cells that form prostaspheres were evaluated for self-renewal and tissue regeneration capability in the present study.
Prostaspheres were generated from 59 prostatectomy specimens. Lineage marker expression and TMPRSS-ERG status was determined via immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Subpopulations of prostate epithelial cells were isolated by cell sorting and interrogated for sphere-forming activity. Tissue regeneration potential was assessed by combining sphere-forming cells with rat urogenital sinus mesenchyme (rUGSM) subcutaneously in immunocompromised mice.
Prostate tissue specimens were heterogeneous, containing both benign and malignant (Gleason 3–5) glands. TMPRSS-ERG fusion was found in approximately 70% of cancers examined. Prostaspheres developed from single cells at a variable rate (0.5–4%) and could be serially passaged. A basal phenotype (CD44+CD49f+CK5+p63+CK8−AR−PSA−) was observed among sphere-forming cells. Subpopulations of prostate cells expressing tumor-associated calcium signal transducer 2 (Trop2), CD44, and CD49f preferentially formed spheres. In vivo implantation of sphere-forming cells and rUGSM regenerated tubular structures containing discreet basal and luminal layers. The TMPRSS-ERG fusion was absent in prostaspheres derived from fusion-positive tumor tissue, suggesting a survival/growth advantage of benign prostate epithelial cells.
Human prostate sphere-forming cells self-renew, have tissue regeneration capability, and represent a subpopulation of basal cells.
Copy gains involving chromosome 7p represent one of the most common genomic alterations found in melanomas, suggesting the presence of “driver” cancer genes. We identified several tumor samples that harbored focal amplifications situated at the peak of common chromosome 7p gains, in which the minimal common overlapping region spanned the ETV1 oncogene. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis revealed copy gains spanning the ETV1 locus in >40% of cases, with ETV1 amplification present in 13% of primary and 18% of metastatic melanomas. Melanoma cell lines, including those with ETV1 amplification, exhibited dependency on ETV1 expression for proliferation and anchorage-independent growth. Moreover, over-expression of ETV1 in combination with oncogenic NRASG12D transformed primary melanocytes and promoted tumor formation in mice. ETV1 overexpression elevated MITF expression in immortalized melanocytes, which was necessary for ETV1-dependent oncogenicity. These observations implicate deregulated ETV1 in melanoma genesis and suggest a pivotal lineage dependency mediated by oncogenic ETS transcription factors in this malignancy.
melanoma; amplification; ETV1; oncogene; ETS factors
The SRY-related HMG-box family of transcription factors member SOX2 has been mainly studied in embryonic stem cells as well as early foregut and neural development. More recently, SOX2 was shown to participate in reprogramming of adult somatic cells to a pluripotent stem cell state and implicated in tumorigenesis in various organs. In breast cancer, SOX2 expression was reported as a feature of basal-like tumors. In this study, we assessed SOX2 expression in 95 primary tumors of postmenopausal breast cancer patients.
Samples from 95 patients diagnosed and treated at the University of Tuebingen Institute of Pathology and Women's Hospital were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for SOX2 expression in the primary tumor samples and in corresponding lymph node metastasis, where present. Furthermore, SOX2 amplification status was assessed by FISH in representative samples. In addition, eighteen fresh frozen samples were analyzed for SOX2, NANOG and OCT4 gene expression by real-time PCR.
SOX2 expression was detected in 28% of invasive breast carcinoma as well as in 44% of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) lesions. A score of SOX2 expression (score 0 to 3) was defined in order to distinguish SOX2 negative (score 0) from SOX2 positive samples (score 1-3) and among latter the subgroup of SOX2 high expressors (score 3 > 50% positive cells). Overall, the incidence of SOX2 expression (score 1-3) was higher than previously reported in a cohort of lymph node negative patients (28% versus 16.7%). SOX2 expression was detected across different breast cancer subtypes and did not correlate with tumor grading. However, high SOX2 expression (score 3) was associated with larger tumor size (p = 0.047) and positive lymph node status (0.018). Corresponding metastatic lymph nodes showed higher SOX2 expression and were significantly more often SOX2 positive than primary tumors (p = 0.0432).
In this report, we show that the embryonic stem cell factor SOX2 is expressed in a variety of early stage postmenopausal breast carcinomas and metastatic lymph nodes. Our data suggest that SOX2 plays an early role in breast carcinogenesis and high expression may promote metastatic potential. Further studies are needed to explore whether SOX2 can predict metastatic potential at an early tumor stage.
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.
Retinoids, which include vitamin A (retinol) and metabolites such as retinoic acid, can inhibit tumor growth and reverse carcinogenesis in animal models of prostate cancer. We analyzed retinoid signaling and metabolism in the TRAMP (Transgenic Adenocarcinoma Mouse Prostate) model. We detected increased retinol and retinyl esters in prostates pooled from 24-36 week TRAMP transgenic positive mice compared to nontransgenic littermates by HPLC. We used quantitative RT-PCR to measure transcripts for genes involved in retinoid signaling and metabolism, including ALDH1A1, ALDH1A2, ALDH1A3, CYP26A1, LRAT, and RARβ2, in prostate tissue from TRAMP positive (+) and age-matched littermate control mice ranging from 18-36 weeks. Transcript levels of ALDH1A1, a putative stem cell marker, were decreased in ventral and lateral lobes of prostates from TRAMP mice compared to age-matched, nontransgenic mice. ALDH1A2 (RALDH2) mRNA levels in dorsal and anterior lobes of TRAMP+ mice were lower than in age-matched (24 week) nontransgenic mice. We detected lower RARβ2 mRNA levels in dorsal prostate lobes of 36 week TRAMP mice relative to nontransgenic mice. We detected high levels of ALDH1A2 protein in the cytoplasm and nucleus in nontransgenic murine prostate paraffin sections, and lower ALDH1A2 protein levels in all prostate lobes of TRAMP mice compared to nontransgenic mice by immunohistochemistry. We also detected much lower cytoplasmic ALDH1A2 protein levels in all human prostate cancer paraffin sections stained (19 total) relative to normal human prostate tissue on the same sections. Our data indicate that this reduction in ALDH1A2 protein is an early event in human prostate cancer.
human prostate cancer; TRAMP; retinoic acid; epithelial cells; carcinogenesis
Genetic rearrangement of TMPRSS2 regulatory sequences and coding sequences of the ERG gene has been detected in nearly half of prostate cancers. Quantitative assays to detect such TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion have been limited to real time PCR techniques that rely on reverse transcriptase-based amplification. We sought to develop a novel assay that uses branched DNA (bDNA) technology to measure TMPRSS2-ERG fusion.
Branched DNA probes were designed to detect TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion in prostate cancer cell lines. Non-quantitative, nested reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were used to ascertain TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion status in prostate tissues.
The branched DNA assay detected TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion from less than 200 picogram of prostate cancer RNA, whereas more than 600 picogram of RNA was required for fusion gene detection by one step real time RT-PCR. In evaluation of clinical prostatectomy specimens, the branched DNA assay showed concordant detectable fusion signal in all 9 clinical samples that had fusion detected by nested RT-PCR or FISH. Moreover, branched DNA detected gene fusion in 2 of 16 prostate cancer tissue specimens that was not detected by FISH nor nested RT-PCR.
Our findings demonstrate a branched DNA assay that is effective for detection of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion in prostate cancer clinical specimens, thus providing an alternative method to ascertain the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion in human prostate cancer tissue.
branched DNA; prostate cancer; ERG; biomarker
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
The majority of lung adenocarcinomas express the lineage-specific transcription factor TTF-1. We recently reported that in a subset of lung adenocarcinomas the TTF-1 gene is amplified. Although the prognostic significance of TTF-1 expression has been previously investigated, the significance of TTF-1 amplification has not been established.
We studied 89 consecutive patients with lung adenocarcinomas treated by surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital between 1997 and 1999 and performed immunohistochemical analysis for TTF-1 expression and fluorescence in situ hybridization for TTF-1 amplification. We investigated associations between clinical-pathologic characteristics, TTF-1 expression, TTF-1 amplification, and overall survival.
TTF-1 expression was categorized as high (48%), low (24%), or absent (28%). TTF-1 was amplified in 7% of cases. Patients with adenocarcinomas with low or high TTF-1 expression had a significantly better outcome than those with absent TTF-1 expression (median overall survival times of 72.4, 77.8 and 30.5 months, respectively, P=0.002). In contrast, patients with adenocarcinomas with TTF-1 expression had a worse outcome if TTF-1 was amplified (median overall survival time 39.5 vs 87.5 months). In multivariate analysis, improved overall survival was independently predicted by TTF-1 expression in combination with no TTF-1 amplification (P<0.001).
In patients with lung adenocarcinoma, TTF-1 expression is a predictor of good outcome. Patients with no TTF-1 expression or TTF-1 expression and TTF-1 gene amplification tend to have a significantly worse prognosis than patients with TTF-1 expression and no TTF-1 gene amplification.
Lung adenocarcinoma; TTF-1; survival
Gleason grading is an important predictor of prostate cancer (PCa) outcomes. Studies using surrogate PCa end points suggest outcomes for Gleason score (GS) 7 cancers vary according to the predominance of pattern 4. These studies have influenced clinical practice, but it is unclear if rates of PCa mortality differ for 3 + 4 and 4 + 3 tumors. Using PCa mortality as the primary end point, we compared outcomes in Gleason 3 + 4 and 4 + 3 cancers, and the predictive ability of GS from a standardized review versus original scoring.
Patients and Methods
Three study pathologists conducted a blinded standardized review of 693 prostatectomy and 119 biopsy specimens to assign primary and secondary Gleason patterns. Tumor specimens were from PCa patients diagnosed between 1984 and 2004 from the Physicians' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Lethal PCa (n = 53) was defined as development of bony metastases or PCa death. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated according to original GS and standardized GS. We compared the discrimination of standardized and original grading with C-statistics from models of 10-year survival.
For prostatectomy specimens, 4 + 3 cancers were associated with a three-fold increase in lethal PCa compared with 3 + 4 cancers (95% CI, 1.1 to 8.6). The discrimination of models of standardized scores from prostatectomy (C-statistic, 0.86) and biopsy (C-statistic, 0.85) were improved compared to models of original scores (prostatectomy C-statistic, 0.82; biopsy C-statistic, 0.72).
Ignoring the predominance of Gleason pattern 4 in GS 7 cancers may conceal important prognostic information. A standardized review of GS can improve prediction of PCa survival.