Somatic HOXB13 Expression Correlates with Metastatic Progression in Men with Localized Prostate Cancer Following Radical Prostatectomy

Adam B. Weiner, Farzana A. Faisal, Elai Davicioni, R. Jeffrey Karnes, Donald J.Vander Griend, Tamara L. Lotan, Edward M. Schaeffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Homeobox B13 (HOXB13) expression regulates normal prostate development and mutations are associated with prostate cancer (PCa) formation. OBJECTIVE: To assess the role of HOXB13 mRNA expression in PCa progression following radical prostatectomy. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Genome-wide expression profiles were queried from two retrospective prostatectomy cohorts with follow-up data (Mayo Clinic, n=780; Johns Hopkins Medical Institute [JHMI], n=355), and a prospective genomic registry (n=5239). OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Multivariable Cox regressions were used to analyze metastasis-free survival (MFS). RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: HOXB13 expression in primary PCa increased with increasing tumor grade and with high metastatic potential based on a genomic signature. The highest quartile of HOXB13 expression was associated with worse MFS compared with the lowest quartile (Mayo Clinic: adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.46, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-2.06, and JHMI: AHR 1.80, 95% CI 1.02-3.19). The combinations of high HOXB13 expression and low expression of its binding partner, MEIS1 (AHR 2.03, 95% CI 1.54-2.66) or MEIS2 (AHR 1.73, 95% CI 1.33-2.26), portended worse MFS. Additionally, high HOXB13 expression in combination with low MEIS1/2 expression correlated with high expression of androgen receptor-mediated genes. The retrospective nature of this study subjects the findings to a bias due to unmeasured variables. CONCLUSIONS: Primary PCa tumors with increased HOXB13 expression have an increased propensity for metastases following prostatectomy, particularly in the setting of low MEIS1/2 expression. High androgen receptor output may account for worse outcomes for these tumors and suggests heightened sensitivity to androgen suppression. PATIENT SUMMARY: Using genomic data from a large number of prostate cancer (PCa) tumors, we found that increased expression of homeobox B13 (HOXB13), a gene related to normal prostate development, was associated with worse outcomes following surgery for PCa. A biomarker signature suggests that these tumors would be more susceptible to androgen suppression, a common treatment for PCa. Take Home  Messagece:: In multiple large cohorts, prostate cancer tumors with high homeobox B13 (HOXB13) expression and low expression of its binding partner MEIS1/2 were enriched with high androgen receptor output and had an increased propensity for metastases following surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)955-962
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Urology Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Disease progression
  • Homeobox B13
  • Homeodomain proteins
  • Prostatic neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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