Genetic alterations in prostate cancer.
A number of genetic changes have been documented in prostate cancer, ranging from allelic loss to point mutations and changes in DNA methylation patterns (summarized in Fig. 1). To date, the most consistent changes are those of allelic loss events, with the majority of tumors examined showing loss of alleles from at least one chromosomal arm. The short arm of chromosome 8, followed by the long arm of chromosome 16, appear to be the most frequent regions of loss, suggesting the presence of novel tumor suppressor genes. Deletions of one copy of the Rb and p53 genes are less frequent, as are mutations of the p53 gene, and accumulating evidence suggests the presence of an additional tumor suppressor gene on chromosome 17p, which is frequently inactivated in prostate cancer. Alterations in the E-cadherin/alpha-catenin-mediated cell-cell adhesion mechanism appear to be present in almost half of all prostate cancers and may be critical to the acquisition of metastatic potential of aggressive prostate cancers. Finally, altered DNA methylation patterns have been found in the majority of prostate cancers examined, suggesting widespread alterations in methylation-modulated gene expression. The presence of multiple changes in these tumors is consistent with the multistep nature of the transformation process. Finally, efforts to identify prostate cancer susceptibility loci are under way and may elucidate critical early events in prostatic carcinogenesis.