Gene expression profiling of primary male breast cancers reveals two unique subgroups and identifies N-acetyltransferase-1 (NAT1) as a novel prognostic biomarker

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Abstract

Introduction: Male breast cancer (MBC) is a rare and inadequately characterized disease. The aim of the present study was to characterize MBC tumors transcriptionally, to classify them into comprehensive subgroups, and to compare them with female breast cancer (FBC). Methods: A total of 66 clinicopathologically well-annotated fresh frozen MBC tumors were analyzed using Illumina Human HT-12 bead arrays, and a tissue microarray with 220 MBC tumors was constructed for validation using immunohistochemistry. Two external gene expression datasets were used for comparison purposes: 37 MBCs and 359 FBCs. Results: Using an unsupervised approach, we classified the MBC tumors into two subgroups, luminal M1 and luminal M2, respectively, with differences in tumor biological features and outcome, and which differed from the intrinsic subgroups described in FBC. The two subgroups were recapitulated in the external MBC dataset. Luminal M2 tumors were characterized by high expression of immune response genes and genes associated with estrogen receptor (ER) signaling. Luminal M1 tumors, on the other hand, despite being ER positive by immunohistochemistry showed a lower correlation to genes associated with ER signaling and displayed a more aggressive phenotype and worse prognosis. Validation of two of the most differentially expressed genes, class 1 human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and the metabolizing gene N-acetyltransferase-1 (NAT1), respectively, revealed significantly better survival associated with high expression of both markers (HLA, hazard ratio (HR) 3.6, P = 0.002; NAT1, HR 2.5, P = 0.033). Importantly, NAT1 remained significant in a multivariate analysis (HR 2.8, P = 0.040) and may thus be a novel prognostic marker in MBC. Conclusions: We have detected two unique and stable subgroups of MBC with differences in tumor biological features and outcome. They differ from the widely acknowledged intrinsic subgroups of FBC. As such, they may constitute two novel subgroups of breast cancer, occurring exclusively in men, and which may consequently require novel treatment approaches. Finally, we identified NAT1 as a possible prognostic biomarker for MBC, as suggested by NAT1 positivity corresponding to better outcome.

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  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Article numberR31
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Oncology, MV (013035000), Create Health (000080030), Pathology, (Lund) (013030000)

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