Oncogenic gene fusions in nonneoplastic precursors as evidence that bacterial infection can initiate prostate cancer.
ABSTRACT: Prostate adenocarcinoma is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men worldwide, and the initiating factors are unknown. Oncogenic TMPRSS2:ERG (ERG+) gene fusions are facilitated by DNA breaks and occur in up to 50% of prostate cancers. Infection-driven inflammation is implicated in the formation of ERG+ fusions, and we hypothesized that these fusions initiate in early inflammation-associated prostate cancer precursor lesions, such as proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA), prior to cancer development. We investigated whether bacterial prostatitis is associated with ERG+ precancerous lesions in unique cases with active bacterial infections at the time of radical prostatectomy. We identified a high frequency of ERG+ non-neoplastic-appearing glands in these cases, including ERG+ PIA transitioning to early invasive cancer. These lesions were positive for ERG protein by immunohistochemistry and ERG messenger RNA by in situ hybridization. We additionally verified TMPRSS2:ERG genomic rearrangements in precursor lesions using tricolor fluorescence in situ hybridization. Identification of rearrangement patterns combined with whole-prostate mapping in three dimensions confirmed multiple (up to eight) distinct ERG+ precancerous lesions in infected cases. We further identified the pathogen-derived genotoxin colibactin as a potential source of DNA breaks in clinical cases as well as cultured prostate cells. Overall, we provide evidence that bacterial infections can initiate driver gene alterations in prostate cancer. In addition, our observations indicate that infection-induced ERG+ fusions are an early alteration in the carcinogenic process and that PIA may serve as a direct precursor to prostate cancer.
Project description:Approximately 50% of prostate cancers are associated with gene fusions of the androgen-regulated gene TMPRSS2 to the oncogenic erythroblast transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factor ERG. The three-dimensional proximity of TMPRSS2 and ERG genes, in combination with DNA breaks, facilitates the formation of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions. However, the origins of DNA breaks that underlie gene fusion formation in prostate cancers are far from clear. We demonstrate a role for inflammation-induced oxidative stress in the formation of DNA breaks leading to recurrent TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions. The transcriptional status and epigenetic features of the target genes influence this effect. Importantly, inflammation-induced de novo genomic rearrangements are blocked by homologous recombination (HR) and promoted by non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways. In conjunction with the association of proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA) with human prostate cancer, our results support a working model in which recurrent genomic rearrangements induced by inflammatory stimuli lead to the development of prostate cancer.
Project description:TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions are the predominant molecular subtype of prostate cancer. Here, we explored the role of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion product using in vitro and in vivo model systems. Transgenic mice expressing the ERG gene fusion product under androgen-regulation develop mouse prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN), a precursor lesion of prostate cancer. Introduction of the ERG gene fusion product into primary or immortalized benign prostate epithelial cells induced an invasion-associated transcriptional program but did not increase cellular proliferation or anchorage-independent growth. These results suggest that TMPRSS2-ERG may not be sufficient for transformation in the absence of secondary molecular lesions. Transcriptional profiling of ERG knockdown in the TMPPRSS2-ERG-positive prostate cancer cell line VCaP revealed decreased expression of genes over-expressed in prostate cancer versus PIN and genes overexpressed in ETS-positive versus -negative prostate cancers in addition to inhibiting invasion. ERG knockdown in VCaP cells also induced a transcriptional program consistent with prostate differentiation. Importantly, VCaP cells and benign prostate cells overexpressing ERG directly engage components of the plasminogen activation pathway to mediate cellular invasion, potentially representing a downstream ETS target susceptible to therapeutic intervention. Our results support previous work suggesting that TMPRSS2-ERG fusions mediate invasion, consistent with the defining histologic distinction between PIN and prostate cancer.
Project description:TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions have been found recurrently in prostate carcinomas, but not in the presumed precursor lesion, high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN). However, HGPIN lesions may share chromosomal changes with prostate cancer. To determine the relative order of genetic events in prostate carcinogenesis, we have analyzed 34 prostate carcinomas, 19 paired HGPIN lesions, 14 benign prostate hyperplasias, and 11 morphologically normal prostatic tissues for TMPRSS2-ERG and TMPRSS2-ETV1 rearrangements and genomic imbalances. TMPRSS2 exon 1 was fused in-frame with ERG exon 4 in 17 of 34 (50%) prostate carcinomas and in 4 of 19 (21%) HGPIN lesions, but in none of controls. The findings were further validated by sequencing analysis and by the real-time polymerase chain reaction quantification of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion transcript and the ERG exons 5/6:exons 1/2 expression ratio. Chromosome copy number changes were detected by comparative genomic hybridization in 42% of clinically confined carcinomas and in none of the 16 HGPIN lesions analyzed. We demonstrate for the first time that the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion gene can be detected in a proportion of HGPIN lesions and that this molecular rearrangement is an early event that may precede chromosome-level alterations in prostate carcinogenesis.
Project description:Gene fusions involving ETS family transcription factors (mainly TMPRSS2-ERG and TMPRSS2-ETV1 fusions) have been found in ~50% of human prostate cancer cases. Although expression of TMPRSS2-ERG or TMPRSS2-ETV1 fusion alone is insufficient to initiate prostate tumorigenesis, they appear to sensitize prostate epithelial cells for cooperation with additional oncogenic mutations to drive frank prostate adenocarcinoma. To search for such ETS-cooperating oncogenic events, we focused on a well-studied prostate tumor suppressor NKX3.1, as loss of NKX3.1 is another common genetic alteration in human prostate cancer. Previous studies have shown that deletions at 8p21 (harboring NKX3.1) and 21q22 (resulting in TMPRSS2-ERG fusion) were both present in a subtype of prostate cancer cases, and that ERG can lead to epigenetic silencing of NKX3.1 in prostate cancer cells, whereas NKX3.1 can in turn negatively regulate TMPRSS2-ERG fusion expression via suppression of the TMPRSS2 promoter activity. We recently generated knockin mouse models for TMPRSS2-ERG and TMPRSS2-ETV1 fusions, utilizing the endogenous Tmprss2 promoter. We crossed these knockin models to an Nkx3.1 knockout mouse model. In Tmprss2-ERG;Nkx3.1+/- (or -/-) male mice, although we observed a slight but significant upregulation of Tmprss2-ERG fusion expression upon Nkx3.1 loss, we did not detect any significant cooperation between these two genetic events to enhance prostate tumorigenesis in vivo. Furthermore, retrospective analysis of a previously published human prostate cancer dataset revealed that within ERG-overexpressing prostate cancer cases, NKX3.1 loss or deletion did not predict biochemical relapse after radical prostatectomy. Collectively, these data suggest that although TMPRSS2-ERG fusion and loss of NKX3.1 are among the most common mutational events found in prostate cancer, and although each of them can sensitize prostate epithelial cells for cooperating with other oncogenic events, these two events themselves do not appear to cooperate at a significant level in vivo to enhance prostate tumorigenesis.
Project description: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.
Project description:The prevalence of fusions of the transmembrane protease, serine 2, gene (TMPRSS2) with the erythroblast transformation-specific-related gene (ERG), or TMPRSS2:ERG, in prostate cancer varies by race. However, such somatic aberration and its association with prognostic factors have neither been studied in a West African population nor been systematically reviewed in the context of racial differences. We used immunohistochemistry to assess oncoprotein encoded by the ERG gene as the established surrogate of ERG fusion genes among 262 prostate cancer biopsies from the Ghana Prostate Study (2004-2006). Poisson regression with robust variance estimation provided prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals of ERG expression in relation to patient characteristics. We found that 47 of 262 (18%) prostate cancers were ERG-positive, and being negative for ERG staining was associated with higher Gleason score. We further conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of TMPRSS2:ERG fusions in relation to race, Gleason score, and tumor stage, combining results from Ghana with 40 additional studies. Meta-analysis showed the prevalence of TMPRSS2:ERG fusions in prostate cancer to be highest in men of European descent (49%), followed by men of Asian (27%) and then African (25%) descent. The lower prevalence of TMPRSS2:ERG fusions in men of African descent implies that alternative genomic mechanisms might explain the disproportionately high prostate cancer burden in such populations.
Project description:Common epithelial cancers are believed to become more aggressive through the accumulation of multiple independent molecular events that lead to the deregulation of cell signaling. However, the discovery that the majority of prostate cancers harbor gene fusions of the 5'-untranslated region of androgen regulated TMPRSS2 promoter with ETS transcription factor family members has brought this paradigm into question1,2. TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion is the most common molecular sub-type of prostate cancer. Recent work suggests that the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion is associated with a more aggressive clinical phenotype3. In the most advanced castration resistant prostate cancers where the androgen receptor has been inactivated, the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion remains functionally active. Here we show compelling clinical and gene expression data supporting the existence of a TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer subclass. Using expression array profiling on 455 primary prostate tumors, we identified an 87 gene expression signature, distinguishing TMPRSS2-ERG fusion prostate cancer as a discrete molecular entity. Computational analysis suggested that this fusion signature was associated with estrogen receptor signaling. Functional studies demonstrated regulation of the TMPRSS2-ERG fusion transcript by estrogenic compounds. These data identify a previously unrecognized mechanism for regulation of the TMPRSS2-ERG, even in the absence of a functional androgen receptor, and thus may have broader implications in the treatment of prostate cancer. Keywords: Prostate cancer, Expression array, Illumina, gene fusion, TMPRSS2, ERG, Signatures, Estrogen Test Cohort: 388 cases from the population based Swedish-Watchful Waiting cohort. The cohort consists of men with localized prostate cancer (clinical stage T1-T2, Mx, N0); Validation cohort: The PhysiciansM-bM-^@M-^Y Health Study (PHS) cohort included 116 US men diagnosed with incidental prostate cancer between 1983 and 2003; 455 cases were annotated for TMPRSS2-ERG fusion. Test Set: GSM208029 ... GSM208392 Validation Set: GSM208404 ... GSM208512
Project description:Fusions between the transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) and ETS related gene (ERG) represent one of the most specific biomarkers that define a distinct molecular subtype of prostate cancer. Studies of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions have seldom been performed at the protein level, primarily due to the lack of high-quality antibodies suitable for quantitative studies. Herein, we applied a recently developed PRISM (high-pressure high-resolution separations with intelligent selection and multiplexing)-SRM (selected reaction monitoring) strategy for quantifying ERG protein in prostate cancer cell lines and tumors. The highly sensitive PRISM-SRM assays provided confident detection of 6 unique ERG peptides in both TMPRSS2-ERG positive cell lines and tissues, but not in cell lines or tissues lacking the TMPRSS2-ERG rearrangement, clearly indicating that ERG protein expression is significantly increased in the presence of the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion. Significantly, our results provide evidence that two distinct ERG protein isoforms are simultaneously expressed in TMPRSS2-ERG positive samples as evidenced by the concomitant detection of two mutually exclusive peptides in two patient tumors and in the VCaP prostate cancer cell line. Three peptides, shared across almost all fusion protein products, were determined to be the most abundant peptides, providing "signature" peptides for detection of ERG over-expression resulting from TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion. The PRISM-SRM assays provide valuable tools for studying TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion protein products in prostate cancer.
Project description:Intratumoral androgen synthesis in prostate cancer contributes to the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Several enzymes responsible for androgen biosynthesis have been shown to be overexpressed in CRPC, thus contributing to CRPC in a castrated environment. The TMPRSS2-ERG transcription factor has been shown to be present in primary prostate cancer tumors as well as CRPC tumors. We hypothesize that TMPRSS2-ERG fusions regulate androgen biosynthetic enzyme (ABE) gene expression and the production of androgens, which contributes to the development of CRPC.We used a panel of assays, including lentivirus transduction, gene expression, chromatin immunoprecipitation and sequencing, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric quantitation, immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and bioinformatics analysis of gene microarray databases, to determine ERG regulation of androgen synthesis.We found that ERG regulated the expression of the ABE AKR1C3 in prostate cancer cells via direct binding to the AKR1C3 gene. Knockdown of ERG resulted in reduced AKR1C3 expression, which caused a reduction in both DHT synthesis and PSA expression in VCaP prostate cancer cells treated with 5?-androstanedione (5?-Adione), a DHT precursor metabolite. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that ERG was coexpressed with AKR1C3 in prostate cancer tissue samples.These data suggest that AKR1C3 catalyzes the biochemical reduction of 5?-Adione to DHT in prostate cancer cells, and that ERG regulates this step through upregulation of AKR1C3 expression. Elucidation of ERG regulation of ABEs in CRPC may help to stratify TMPRSS2-ERG fusion-positive prostate cancer patients in the clinic for anti-androgen receptor-driven therapies; and AKR1C3 may serve as a valuable therapeutic target in the treatment of CRPC.
Project description:BACKGROUND: TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions occur in about 50% of all prostate cancer cases and represent promising markers for molecular subtyping. Although TMPRSS2-ERG fusion seems to be a critical event in prostate cancer, the precise functional role in cancer development and progression is still unclear. METHODS: We studied large-scale gene expression profiles in 47 prostate tumor tissue samples and in 48 normal prostate tissue samples taken from the non-suspect area of clinical low-risk tumors using Affymetrix GeneChip Exon 1.0 ST microarrays. RESULTS: Comparison of gene expression levels among TMPRSS2-ERG fusion-positive and negative tumors as well as benign samples demonstrated a distinct transcriptional program induced by the gene fusion event. Well-known biomarkers for prostate cancer detection like CRISP3 were found to be associated with the gene fusion status. WNT and TGF-?/BMP signaling pathways were significantly associated with genes upregulated in TMPRSS2-ERG fusion-positive tumors. CONCLUSIONS: The TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion results in the modulation of transcriptional patterns and cellular pathways with potential consequences for prostate cancer progression. Well-known biomarkers for prostate cancer detection were found to be associated with the gene fusion. Our results suggest that the fusion status should be considered in retrospective and future studies to assess biomarkers for prostate cancer detection, progression and targeted therapy.