by Vera Magistroni, Luca Mologni, Stefano Sanselicio, James Frances Reid, Sara Redaelli, Rocco Piazza, Michela Viltadi, Giorgio Bovo, Guido Strada, Marco Grasso, Manuela Gariboldi, Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini
The ERG gene belongs to the ETS family of transcription factors and has been found to be involved in atypical chromosomal rearrangements in several cancers. To gain insight into the oncogenic activity of ERG, we compared the gene expression profile of NIH-3T3 cells stably expressing the coding regions of the three main ERG oncogenic fusions: TMPRSS2/ERG (tERG), EWS/ERG and FUS/ERG. We found that all three ERG fusions significantly up-regulate PIM1 expression in the NIH-3T3 cell line. PIM1 is a serine/threonine kinase frequently over-expressed in cancers of haematological and epithelial origin. We show here that tERG expression induces PIM1 in the non-malignant prostate cell line RWPE-1, strengthening the relation between tERG and PIM1 up-regulation in the initial stages of prostate carcinogenesis. Silencing of tERG reversed PIM1 induction. A significant association between ERG and PIM1 expression in clinical prostate carcinoma specimens was found, suggesting that such a mechanism may be relevant in vivo. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation experiments showed that tERG directly binds to PIM1 promoter in the RWPE-1 prostate cell line, suggesting that tERG could be a direct regulator of PIM1 expression. The up-regulation of PIM1 induced by tERG over-expression significantly modified Cyclin B1 levels and increased the percentage of aneuploid cells in the RWPE-1 cell line after taxane-based treatment. Here we provide the first evidence for an ERG-mediated PIM1 up-regulation in prostate cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting a direct effect of ERG transcriptional activity in the alteration of genetic stability.