Recurrent chimeric RNAs enriched in human prostate cancer identified by deep sequencing

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 31;108(22):9172-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100489108. Epub 2011 May 12.


Transcription-induced chimeric RNAs, possessing sequences from different genes, are expected to increase the proteomic diversity through chimeric proteins or altered regulation. Despite their importance, few studies have focused on chimeric RNAs especially regarding their presence/roles in human cancers. By deep sequencing the transcriptome of 20 human prostate cancer and 10 matched benign prostate tissues, we obtained 1.3 billion sequence reads, which led to the identification of 2,369 chimeric RNA candidates. Chimeric RNAs occurred in significantly higher frequency in cancer than in matched benign samples. Experimental investigation of a selected 46 set led to the confirmation of 32 chimeric RNAs, of which 27 were highly recurrent and previously undescribed in prostate cancer. Importantly, a subset of these chimeras was present in prostate cancer cell lines, but not detectable in primary human prostate epithelium cells, implying their associations with cancer. These chimeras contain discernable 5' and 3' splice sites at the RNA junction, indicating that their formation is mediated by splicing. Their presence is also largely independent of the expression of parental genes, suggesting that other factors are involved in their production and regulation. One chimera, TMEM79-SMG5, is highly differentially expressed in human cancer samples and therefore a potential biomarker. The prevalence of chimeric RNAs may allow the limited number of human genes to encode a substantially larger number of RNAs and proteins, forming an additional layer of cellular complexity. Together, our results suggest that chimeric RNAs are widespread, and increased chimeric RNA events could represent a unique class of molecular alteration in cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatectomy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*


  • RNA

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE22260