TMPRSS2-ERG fusions are strongly linked to young patient age in low-grade prostate cancer

Eur Urol. 2014 Dec;66(6):978-81. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2014.06.027. Epub 2014 Jul 9.


Based on next-generation sequencing of early-onset prostate cancer (PCa), we earlier demonstrated that PCa in young patients is prone to rearrangements involving androgen-regulated genes-such as transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2)-v-ets avian erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homolog (ERG) fusion-and provided data suggesting that this situation might be caused by increased androgen signaling in younger men. In the same study, an accumulation of chromosomal deletions was found in cancers of elderly patients. To determine how age-dependent molecular features relate to cancer phenotype, an existing data set of 11,152 PCas was expanded by additional fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), 6q15 and 5q21. The results demonstrate that the decrease in TMPRSS2-ERG fusions with increasing patient age is limited to low-grade cancers (Gleason ≤3+4) and that the significant increase in the deletion frequency with age was strictly limited to ERG-negative cancers for 6q15 and 5q21 but to ERG-positive cancers for PTEN. These data suggest that the accumulation of non-androgen-linked genomic alterations with advanced patient age may require an appropriate microenvironment, such as a positive or negative ERG status. The strong link of ERG activation to young patient age and low-grade cancers may help to explain a slight predominance of low-grade cancers in young patients.

Keywords: 5q; 6q; Age; Deletion; ERG; Early onset; Gene fusion; Molecular; PTEN; Prognosis; Prostate cancer; Subtype; TMPRSS-ERG.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 5
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 6
  • Gene Fusion*
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Trans-Activators / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG


  • ERG protein, human
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • TMPRSS2-ERG fusion protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcriptional Regulator ERG
  • Testosterone
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human