Prostate adenocarcinomas aberrantly expressing p63 are molecularly distinct from usual-type prostatic adenocarcinomas

Hsueh Li Tan, Michael C. Haffner, David M. Esopi, Ajay M. Vaghasia, Giovanna A. Giannico, Hillary M. Ross, Susmita Ghosh, Jessica L. Hicks, Qizhi Zheng, Ankur R. Sangoi, Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, Adeboye O. Osunkoya, Angelo M. De Marzo, Jonathan I. Epstein, Tamara L. Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We have described a rare group of prostate adenocarcinomas that show aberrant expression of p63, a protein strongly expressed in prostatic basal cells and absent from usual-type acinar prostate cancers. The partial basal-like immunophenotype of these tumors is intriguing in light of the persistent debate surrounding the cell-of-origin for prostate cancer; however, their molecular phenotype is unknown. We collected 37 of these tumors on radical prostatectomy and biopsy and assessed subsets for a diverse panel of molecular markers. The majority of p63-expressing tumors were positive for the ΔNp63 isoform (6/7) by immunofluorescence and p63 mRNA (7/8) by chromogenic in situ hybridization. Despite p63 positivity, these tumors uniformly expressed luminal-type cytokeratin proteins such as CK18 (13/13), CK8 (8/8), and markers of androgen axis signaling commonly seen in luminal cells, including androgen receptor (10/11), NKX3.1 (8/8), and prostein (12/13). Conversely, basal cytokeratins such as CK14 and CK15 were negative in all cases (0/8) and CK5/6 was weakly and focally positive in 36% (4/11) of cases. Pluripotency markers including β-catenin, Oct4, and c-kit were negative in p63-expressing tumors (0/11). Despite nearly universal expression of androgen receptor and downstream androgen signaling targets, p63-expressing tumors lacked ERG rearrangements by fluorescence in situ hybridization (0/14) and ERG protein expression (0/37). No tumors expressed SPINK1 or showed PTEN protein loss (0/19). Surprisingly, 74% (14/19) of p63-expressing tumors expressed GSTP1 protein at least focally, and 33% (2/6) entirely lacked GSTP1 CpG island hypermethylation by bisulfite sequencing. In contrast to usual prostatic adenocarcinomas, prostate tumors with p63 expression show a mixed luminal/basal immunophenotype, uniformly lack ERG gene rearrangement, and frequently express GSTP1. These data strongly suggest that p63-expressing prostate tumors represent a molecularly distinct subclass and further study of this rare tumor type may yield important insights into the role of p63 in prostatic biology and the prostate cancer cell-of-origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Prostate adenocarcinomas aberrantly expressing p63 are molecularly distinct from usual-type prostatic adenocarcinomas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this