Polycomb-group oncogenes EZH2, BMI1, and RING1 are overexpressed in prostate cancer with adverse pathologic and clinical features

Eur Urol. 2007 Aug;52(2):455-63. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2006.11.020. Epub 2006 Nov 17.


Objectives: Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are involved in maintenance of cell identity and proliferation. The protein EZH2 is overexpressed in disseminated prostate cancer, implicating a role of PcG complexes in tumor progression. In this study, we evaluated the expression of eight members of both PcG complexes in clinicopathologically defined prostate cancer.

Methods: Components of both PcG protein complexes PRC2 (EZH2, EED, YY1) and PRC1 (BMI1, RING1, HPH1, HPC1, HPC2) were immunohistochemically identified in tissue microarrays of 114 prostate cancer patients. Protein expression was semi-quantitatively scored and correlated with pathologic parameters and recurrence of prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

Results: Whereas BMI1, RING1, HPC1 and HPH1 were all abundantly present in normal and malignant prostate epithelium, expression of EZH2 occurred in only <10% of cells. Expression of EZH2, BMI1 and RING1 were all significantly enhanced in tumours with Gleason score (GS) > or = 8, extraprostatic extension, positive surgical margins, and PSA recurrence. When only the subgroup of GS < or = 6 was considered, representing the tumour grade in the majority of needle biopsies, EZH2 and BMI1 were also predictive for PSA recurrence. In a multivariable analysis, BMI1 was the only PcG protein with an independent prognostic value.

Conclusions: PcG proteins EZH2, BMI1, and RING1 are associated with adverse pathologic features and clinical PSA recurrence of prostate cancer. Whereas BMI1 and RING1 are abundantly present in prostate cancer, EZH2 is expressed at relatively low levels, making it a less obvious target for therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Ligases
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases


  • BMI1 protein, human
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Polycomb-Group Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • EZH2 protein, human
  • Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 Protein
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
  • RING1 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • Ligases
  • CBX4 protein, human