There is considerable interest in urine as a non-invasive liquid biopsy to detect prostate cancer (PCa). PCa-specific transcripts such as the TMPRSS2:ERG fusion gene can be found in both urine extracellular vesicles (EVs) and urine cell-sediment (Cell) but the relative usefulness of these and other genes in each fraction in PCa detection has not been fully elucidated. Urine samples from 76 men (PCa n = 40, non-cancer n = 36) were analysed by NanoString for 154 PCa-associated genes-probes, 11 tissue-specific, and six housekeeping. Comparison to qRT-PCR data for four genes (PCA3, OR51E2, FOLH1, and RPLP2) was strong (r = 0.51–0.95, Spearman p < 0.00001). Comparing EV to Cells, differential gene expression analysis found 57 gene-probes significantly more highly expressed in 100 ng of amplified cDNA products from the EV fraction, and 26 in Cells (p < 0.05; edgeR). Expression levels of prostate-specific genes (KLK2, KLK3) measured were ~20x higher in EVs, while PTPRC (white-blood Cells) was ~1000× higher in Cells. Boruta analysis identified 11 gene-probes as useful in detecting PCa: two were useful in both fractions (PCA3, HOXC6), five in EVs alone (GJB1, RPS10, TMPRSS2:ERG, ERG_Exons_4-5, HPN) and four from Cell (ERG_Exons_6-7, OR51E2, SPINK1, IMPDH2), suggesting that it is beneficial to fractionate whole urine prior to analysis. The five housekeeping genes were not significantly differentially expressed between PCa and non-cancer samples. Expression signatures from Cell, EV and combined data did not show evidence for one fraction providing superior information over the other.
- extracellular vesicles