Intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity and alternative driver genetic alterations in breast cancers with heterogeneous HER2 gene amplification.
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<h4>Background</h4>HER2 is overexpressed and amplified in approximately 15% of invasive breast cancers, and is the molecular target and predictive marker of response to anti-HER2 agents. In a subset of these cases, heterogeneous distribution of HER2 gene amplification can be found, which creates clinically challenging scenarios. Currently, breast cancers with HER2 amplification/overexpression in just over 10% of cancer cells are considered HER2-positive for clinical purposes; however, it is unclear as to whether the HER2-negative components of such tumors would be driven by distinct genetic alterations. Here we sought to characterize the pathologic and genetic features of the HER2-positive and HER2-negative components of breast cancers with heterogeneous HER2 gene amplification and to define the repertoire of potential driver genetic alterations in the HER2-negative components of these cases.<h4>Results</h4>We separately analyzed the HER2-negative and HER2-positive components of 12 HER2 heterogeneous breast cancers using gene copy number profiling and massively parallel sequencing, and identified potential driver genetic alterations restricted to the HER2-negative cells in each case. In vitro experiments provided functional evidence to suggest that BRF2 and DSN1 overexpression/amplification, and the HER2 I767M mutation may be alterations that compensate for the lack of HER2 amplification in the HER2-negative components of HER2 heterogeneous breast cancers.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results indicate that even driver genetic alterations, such as HER2 gene amplification, can be heterogeneously distributed within a cancer, and that the HER2-negative components are likely driven by genetic alterations not present in the HER2-positive components, including BRF2 and DSN1 amplification and HER2 somatic mutations.
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Cell Line, Tumor
Transcription Factor TFIIIB
Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
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Genome biology, 2015, 16 pp. 107 - ?