Objective: To integrate the mapping of ERG alterations with the collection of expression microarray (EMA) data, as previous EMA analyses have failed to consider the genetic heterogeneity and complex patterns of ERG alteration frequently found in cancerous prostates.
Materials and methods: We determined genome-wide expression levels with GeneChip Human Exon 1.0 ST arrays (Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA, USA) using RNA prepared from 35 specimens of prostate cancer from 28 prostates.
Results: The expression profiles showed clustering, in unsupervised hierarchical analyses, into two distinct prostate cancer categories, with one group strongly associated with indicators of poor clinical outcome. The two categories are not tightly linked to ERG status. By analysis of the data we identified a subgroup of cancers lacking ERG rearrangements that showed an outlier pattern of SPINK1 mRNA expression. There was a major distinction between ERG rearranged and non-rearranged cancers that involves the levels of expression of genes linked to exposure to beta-oestradiol, and to retinoic acid.
Conclusions: Expression profiling of prostate cancer samples containing single patterns of ERG alterations can provide novel insights into the mechanism of prostate cancer development, and support the view that factors other than ERG status are the major determinants of poor clinical outcome.