DNA mismatch repair (MMR) is integral to the maintenance of genetic stability. We aimed to evaluate the clinical impact of MMR gene expression in prostate cancer. The MMR genes MSH6, MLH1 and PMS2 were analyzed by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray containing 11152 prostate cancer specimens. Results were compared with ETS-related gene status and deletions of PTEN, 3p13, 5q21 and 6q15. MSH6, MLH1 and PMS2 expression was detectable in 89.5%, 85.4% and 85.0% of cancers and was particularly strong in cancers with advanced pathological tumor stage (P < 0.0001 each), high Gleason grade (P < 0.0001 each), nodal metastasis (P ≤ 0.0083) and early biochemical recurrence (P < 0.0001). High levels of MMR gene expression paralleled features of genetic instability, such as the number of genomic deletions per cancer; strong expression of all three MMR genes was found in 24%, 29%, 30%, 33% and 42% of cancers with no, one, two, three or four to five deletions (P < 0.0001). The prognostic value of the analyzed MMR genes was largely driven by the subset of cancers lacking ERG fusion (P < 0.0001), while the prognostic impact of MMR gene overexpression was only marginal in ERG-positive cancers. Multivariate analyses suggested an independent prognostic relevance of MMR genes in ERG-negative prostate cancers when compared with prognostic parameters available at the time of initial biopsy. In conclusion, MMR overexpression is common in prostate cancer and is linked to poor outcome as well as features indicating genetic instability. ERG fusion should be analyzed along with MMR gene expression in potential clinical tests.
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