A Systems Approach to Interrogate Gene Expression Patterns in African American Men Presenting with Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Oct 14;13(20):5143. doi: 10.3390/cancers13205143.


An emerging theory about racial differences in cancer risk and outcomes is that psychological and social stressors influence cellular stress responses; however, limited empirical data are available on racial differences in cellular stress responses among men who are at risk for adverse prostate cancer outcomes. In this study, we undertook a systems approach to examine molecular profiles and cellular stress responses in an important segment of African American (AA) and European American (EA) men: men undergoing prostate biopsy. We assessed the prostate transcriptome with a single biopsy core via high throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq). Transcriptomic analyses uncovered impacted biological pathways including PI3K-Akt signaling pathway, Neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction pathway, and ECM-receptor interaction. Additionally, 187 genes mapping to the Gene Ontology (GO) terms RNA binding, structural constituent of ribosome, SRP-dependent co-translational protein targeting to membrane and the biological pathways, translation, L13a-mediated translational silencing of Ceruloplasmin expression were differentially expressed (DE) between EA and AA. This signature allowed separation of AA and EA patients, and AA patients with the most severe clinical characteristics. AA patients with elevated expression levels of this genomic signature presented with higher Gleason scores, a greater number of positive core biopsies, elevated dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels and serum vitamin D deficiency. Protein-protein interaction (PPI) network analysis revealed a high degree of connectivity between these 187 proteins.

Keywords: African American; RNA-Seq; health disparities; precision medicine; prostate; stress; transcriptomics; vitamin D.