Identification of the genetic alterations in prostate cancer metastases
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Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common cancer among men in Western developed countries. While the majority of PCa diagnosed by PSA screening are indolent, advanced and metastatic disease has a significant mortality and morbidity. Bone metastases are extremely common in PCa and identification of bone metastasis associated genes may provide insights into PCa progression and assist in finding new drug targets. However, the genetic study of bone metastases is very limited due to the difficulty of sampling. We performed genome-wide analysis of six fresh frozen PCa bone metastases. We found several alterations commonly present in advanced PCa, including gains at: 1q32.1, broad gains of 8q (MYC, NCOA2), 9q33.2-34.3, 11q13.1-14.1 (CCND1), 12q24.23-24.31, 16p13.3, 16p12.1-11.2 and Xq12-13.1 (AR) as well as losses at: 5q11.1-22.1, 5q14.3-23.1, 6q14.1-22, 8p23.2-p21, 13q13.2-31.1 (RB1), 17p13.1-12 (TP53) and 18q11.1-22.3. Two cases also showed PTEN loss and one sample had deletion indicative of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion. For downstream analysis we concentrated on CCND1 oncogene at 11q13 and FBXL4 at 6q16 as potential drivers of these genomic changes. Using fluorescence in situ hybridisation we found common CCND1 gain and FBXL4 loss in PCa bone metastases (54.5%, 12/22 and 47.8%, 11/23, respectively), much less frequent in primary tumours (7%, 10/142 and 13.8%, 20/145, respectively) and absent in BPH cases (0/55). The expression levels of cyclin D1 protein, coded by CCND1 correlated with CCND1 copy number gain (p < 0.0001) and were higher in metastatic tumours than in primary PCa (p = 0.015), confirming cyclin D1 involvement in advanced PCa. Presence of FBXL4 loss in early stage primary PCa strongly correlated with current PCa prognostic markers and with worse patient survival. Therefore, we propose that FBXL4 may be a tumour suppressor gene in prostate, whose loss in early PCa could be indicative of more aggressive disease. Using in vitro experiments we demonstrated that FBXL4 regulates cells motility and invasion. We confirmed that ERLEC1, an ER lectin involved in ER stress response pathway is a degradation target of FBXL4. As activation of ER stress response pathway is linked to enhanced cell migration and invasion, loss of FBXL4 could be one of the mechanisms by which cancer cells increase their efficiency to respond to stress and to escalate their metastatic potential through stabilisation of ERLEC1. Further studies of FBXL4 – ERLEC1 axis are necessary to establish how they contribute to PCa progression. This knowledge can potentially help to develop novel targeted therapies for aggressive disease harbouring FBXL4 abnormalities.
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