ERG translocations are commonly involved in the initiation of prostate neoplasia, yet previous experimental approaches have not addressed mechanisms of oncogenic inception. Here, in a genetically engineered mouse model, combining TMPRSS2-driven ERG with KrasG12D led to invasive prostate adenocarcinomas, while ERG or KrasG12D alone were non-oncogenic. In primary prostate luminal epithelial cells, following inducible oncogenic Kras expression or Pten depletion, TMPRSS2-ERG suppressed oncogene-induced senescence, independent of TP53 induction and RB1 inhibition. Oncogenic KRAS and TMPRSS2-ERG synergized to promote tumorigenesis and metastasis of primary luminal cells. The presence of TMPRSS2-ERG compared to a wild-type background was associated with a stemness phenotype and with relatively increased RAS-induced differential gene expression for MYC and mTOR-regulated pathways, including protein translation and lipogenesis. In addition, mTOR inhibitors abrogated ERG-dependent senescence resistance. These studies reveal a previously unappreciated function whereby ERG expression primes preneoplastic cells for the accumulation of additional gene mutations by suppression of oncogene-induced senescence.
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