Tmprss2-erg gene fusion is not associated with outcome in patients treated by prostatectomy
A significant number of prostate cancers have been shown to have recurrent chromosomal rearrangements resulting in the fusion of the androgen-regulated TMPRSS2 promoter to a member of the ETS transcription factor family, most commonly ERG. This results in ERG overexpression, which may have a direct causal role in prostate tumorigenesis or progression. However, the clinical significance of the rearrangement is unclear, and in particular, relationship to outcome has been inconsistent in recent reports. We analyzed TMPRSS2-ERG gene rearrangement status by fluorescence in situ hybridization in 521 cases of clinically localized surgically treated prostate cancer with 95 months of median follow-up and also in 40 unmatched metastases. Forty-two percent of primary tumors and 40% of metastases had rearrangements. Eleven percent had copy number increase (CNI) of the TMPRRS2-ERG region. Rearrangement alone was associated with lower grade, but not with stage, biochemical recurrence, metastases, or death. CNI with and without rearrangement was associated with high grade and advanced stage. Further, a subgroup of cancers with CNI and rearrangement by deletion, with two or more copies of the deleted locus, tended to be more clinically aggressive. DNA index assessment revealed that the majority of tumors with CNI of TMPRSS2-ERG had generalized aneuploidy/tetraploidy in contrast to tumors without TMPRSS2-ERG CNI, which were predominantly diploid. We therefore conclude that translocation of TMPRSS2-ERG is not associated with outcome, and the aggressive clinical features associated with CNI of chromosome 21 reflect generalized aneuploidy and are not due to CNI specifically of rearranged TMPRSS2-ERG.