Delineation of TMPRSS2-ERG splice variants in prostate cancer

Ying Hu, Albert Dobi, Taduru Sreenath, Christopher Cook, Atekelt Y. Tadase, Lakshmi Ravindranath, Jennifer Cullen, Bungo Furusato, Yongmei Chen, Rajesh L. Thangapazham, Ahmed Mohamed, Chen Sun, Isabell A. Sesterhenn, David G. McLeod, Gyorgy Petrovics, Shiv Srivastava*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The expression of the E7S-related gene (ERG) is low or undetectable in benign prostate epithelial cells. High prevalence of ERG overexpression in prostate cancer cells due to TMPRSS2-ERG fusions suggest for causal roles of ERG protein in the neoplastic process. TMPRSS2-ERG fusion junctions have been extensively studied in prostate cancer. However, virtually nothing is known about the nature of full-length transcripts and encoded proteins. This study focuses on qualitative and quantitative features of full-length TMPRSS2-ERG transcripts in prostate cancer. Experimental Design: Full-length TMPRSS2-ERG transcripts were cloned and sequenced from a cDNA library generated from pooled RNA of six TMPRSS2-ERG fusion - positive prostate tumors. The encoded ERG proteins were analyzed in HEK293 cells. Copy numbers of TMPRSS2-ERG splice variants were determined by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR in laser capture microdissected prostate cancer cells. Results: Two types of TMPRSS2-ERG cDNAs were identified: type I, which encodes full-length prototypical ERG protein (ERG1, ERG2, ERG3), and type II, encoding truncated ERG proteins lacking the ETS domain (ERG8 and a new variant, TEPC). In microdissected prostate tumor cells from 122 patients, relative abundance of these variants was in the following order: ERG8 > TEPC > ERG 3 > ERG1/2 with combined overexpression rate of 62.3% in prostate cancer. Increased ratio of type l over type II splice forms showed a trend of correlation with less favorable pathology and outcome. Conclusions: Qualitative and quantitative features of specific ERG splice variants defined here promise to enhance the utility of ERG as a biomarker and therapeutic target in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4719-4725
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


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