Assessment of the Molecular Heterogeneity of E-Cadherin Expression in Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer.
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Mutations and loss of E-cadherin protein expression define the vast majority of invasive lobular carcinomas. In a subset of these cases, the heterogeneous expression of E-cadherin is observed either as wild-type (strong membranous) expression or aberrant expression (cytoplasmic expression). However, it is unclear as to whether the two components would be driven by distinct genetic or epigenetic alterations. Here, we used whole genome DNA sequencing and methylation array profiling of two separately dissected components of nine invasive lobular carcinomas with heterogeneous E-cadherin expression. E-cadherin negative and aberrant/positive components of E-cadherin heterogeneous tumours showed a similar mutational, copy number and promoter methylation repertoire, suggesting they arise from a common ancestor, as opposed to the collision of two independent tumours. We found that the majority of E-cadherin heterogeneous tumours harboured <i>CDH1</i> mutations in both the E-cadherin negative and aberrant/positive components together with somatic mutations in additional driver genes known to be enriched in both pure invasive carcinomas of no special type and invasive lobular breast cancers, whereas these were less commonly observed in <i>CDH1</i> wild-type tumours. <i>CDH1</i> mutant tumours also exhibited a higher mutation burden as well as increased presence of APOBEC-dependent mutational signatures 2 and 13 compared to <i>CDH1</i> wild-type tumours. Together, our results suggest that regardless of E-cadherin protein expression, tumours showing heterogeneous expression of E-cadherin should be considered as part of the spectrum of invasive lobular breast cancers.
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Cancers, 2022, 14 (2)