TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion prevalence and class are significantly different in prostate cancer of Caucasian, African-American and Japanese patients

Prostate. 2011 Apr;71(5):489-97. doi: 10.1002/pros.21265. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Background: Prostate cancer (PCa) exhibits significant differences in prevalence and mortality among different ethnic groups. The underlying genetics is not well understood. TMPRSS2-ERG fusion is a common recurrent chromosomal aberration in PCa and is however not studied among different ethnic groups. We examined the prevalence and class of TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion in PCa from Caucasian, African-American, and Japanese patients.

Materials and methods: A tissue microarray of PCa from 42 Caucasians, 64 African-Americans, and 44 Japanese patients who underwent radical prostatectomies (RP) was studied for TMPRSS2-ERG fusion using a multicolor interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization assay for ERG gene break-apart.

Results: TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion was present in 50% (21/42) of Caucasians, 31.3% (20/64) of African-Americans, and 15.9% (7/44) of Japanese (P=0.003). The gene fusion through translocation, deletion, or both occurred in 61.9% (13/21), 38.1% (8/21), and 0% (0/21) in Caucasians, 20% (4/20), 60% (12/20), and 20% (4/20) in African-Americans, and 71.4% (5/7), 28.6% (2/7), and 0% (0/7) in Japanese patients (P=0.02). A multivariate analysis demonstrated that TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion correlated with the ethnicity (P=0.03), marginally correlated with the pathologic stage (P=0.06), but not other clinicopathologic parameters, including age, preoperative PSA levels, and Gleason score.

Conclusions: The prevalence and class of TMPRSS2-ERG are significantly different in PCa of Caucasian, African-American, and Japanese patients. Future studies of the molecular pathways implicated in TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion may shed light on the disparity in prevalence and mortality of PCa among different ethnic groups and help design better prevention and treatment strategies.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Gene Fusion
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serine Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG


  • ERG protein, human
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • TMPRSS2-ERG fusion protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • TMPRSS2 protein, human