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Overexpression of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) 2 is associated with poor prognosis and shortened survival in breast cancer patients. HER2 is a potent activator of several signaling pathways that support cell survival, proliferation and metabolism. In HER2-positive breast cancer there are most likely unexplored proteins that act directly or indirectly downstream of well established pathways and take part in tumor development and treatment response.
In order to identify novel copy number variations (CNVs) in HER2-positive breast cancer whole-genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays were used. A PCR-based loss of heterozygosis (LOH) assay was conducted to verify presence of deletion in HER2-positive breast cancer cases but also in HER2 negative breast cancers, cervical cancers and lung cancers. Screening for mutations was performed using single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) followed by PCR sequencing. Protein expression was evaluated with immunohistochemistry (IHC).
A common deletion at chromosome Xq24 was found in 80% of the cases. This locus harbors the gene solute carrier (SLC) family 25A member 43 (SLC25A43) encoding for a mitochondrial transport protein. The LOH assay revealed presence of SLC25A43 deletion in HER2-positive (48%), HER2-negative (9%), cervical (42%) and lung (67%) cancers. HER2-positive tumors with negative or low SLC25A43 protein expression had significantly lower S-phase fraction compared to tumors with medium or high expression (P=0.024).
We have found deletion in the SLC25A43 gene to be a common event in HER2-positive breast cancer as well as in other cancers. In addition, the SLC25A43 protein expression was shown to be related to S-phase fraction in HER2-positive breast cancer. Our results indicate a possible role of SLC25A43 in HER2-positive breast cancer and support the hypothesis of altered mitochondrial function in cancer.