Background: The discovery of ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss warrants investigation in a mechanism-based prognostic classification of prostate cancer (PCa). The study objective was to evaluate the potential clinical significance and natural history of different disease categories by combining ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss status.
Methods: We utilised fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) assays to detect PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements in 308 conservatively managed PCa patients with survival outcome data.
Results: ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements alone and PTEN gene loss alone both failed to show a link to survival in multivariate analyses. However, there was a strong interaction between ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss (P<0.001). The largest subgroup of patients (54%), lacking both PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements comprised a 'good prognosis' population exhibiting favourable cancer-specific survival (85.5% alive at 11 years). The presence of PTEN gene loss in the absence of ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements identified a patient population (6%) with poorer cancer-specific survival that was highly significant (HR=4.87, P<0.001 in multivariate analysis, 13.7% survival at 11 years) when compared with the 'good prognosis' group. ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements and PTEN gene loss status should now prospectively be incorporated into a predictive model to establish whether predictive performance is improved.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that FISH studies of PTEN gene loss and ERG/ETV1 gene rearrangements could be pursued for patient stratification, selection and hypothesis-generating subgroup analyses in future PCa clinical trials and potentially in patient management.