Erythroblast transformation-specific-related gene (ERG) fusions, the most common and validated prostate cancer (CaP) genome alteration, result in alterations in the expression of the ERG oncoprotein. Significantly lower frequencies of ERG have been reported in tumors of African American (AA) in comparison to Caucasian American (CA) men. Building on our preliminary observations, this study has focused on the increased association of the ERG-negative status with higher-grade prostate tumors in AA men. Representative whole-mount prostate sections from a matched cohort of 63 AA and 63 CA men with Gleason scores of 4+3 and those with Gleason scores of 8-10 were analyzed for ERG oncoprotein by immunohistochemistry. The striking finding of this study was that ERG expression was 3 times more likely to be present in the higher-grade index tumors of CA men compared to AA men (31 of 63 vs. 10 of 63 patients, respectively; P<0.0001). Although the mechanisms underlying these differences have not been elucidated, the present study along with our previous observations underscores that ERG typing may enhance the understanding of ethnic differences and future targeted therapy of CaP.
Keywords: erythroblast transformation-specific-related gene; ethnicity; prostate cancer; race; transmembrane protease serine 2 gene fusion.