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1.  Molecular subtype and tumor characteristics of breast cancer metastases as assessed by gene expression significantly influence patient post-relapse survival 
Annals of Oncology  2014;26(1):81-88.
An enhanced understanding of the biology of breast cancer metastases is needed to individualize patient management. Here, we show that tumor characteristics of breast cancer metastases significantly influence post-relapse survival, emphasizing that molecular investigation at relapse offers clinically relevant information, with the potential to improve patient management and survival.
We and others have recently shown that tumor characteristics are altered throughout tumor progression. These findings emphasize the need for re-examination of tumor characteristics at relapse and have led to recommendations from ESMO and the Swedish Breast Cancer group. Here, we aim to determine whether tumor characteristics and molecular subtypes in breast cancer metastases confer clinically relevant prognostic information for patients.
Patients and methods
The translational aspect of the Swedish multicenter randomized trial called TEX included 111 patients with at least one biopsy from a morphologically confirmed locoregional or distant breast cancer metastasis diagnosed from December 2002 until June 2007. All patients had detailed clinical information, complete follow-up, and metastasis gene expression information (Affymetrix array GPL10379). We assessed the previously published gene expression modules describing biological processes [proliferation, apoptosis, human epidermal receptor 2 (HER2) and estrogen (ER) signaling, tumor invasion, immune response, and angiogenesis] and pathways (Ras, MAPK, PTEN, AKT-MTOR, PI3KCA, IGF1, Src, Myc, E2F3, and β-catenin) and the intrinsic subtypes (PAM50). Furthermore, by contrasting genes expressed in the metastases in relation to survival, we derived a poor metastasis survival signature.
A significant reduction in post-relapse breast cancer-specific survival was associated with low-ER receptor signaling and apoptosis gene module scores, and high AKT-MTOR, Ras, and β-catenin module scores. Similarly, intrinsic subtyping of the metastases provided statistically significant post-relapse survival information with the worst survival outcome in the basal-like [hazard ratio (HR) 3.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3–10.9] and HER2-enriched (HR 4.4; 95% CI 1.5–12.8) subtypes compared with the luminal A subtype. Overall, 25% of the metastases were basal-like, 32% HER2-enriched, 10% luminal A, 28% luminal B, and 5% normal-like.
We show that tumor characteristics and molecular subtypes of breast cancer metastases significantly influence post-relapse patient survival, emphasizing that molecular investigations at relapse provide prognostic and clinically relevant information.
This is the translational part of the Swedish multicenter and randomized trial TEX, identifier nct01433614 (
PMCID: PMC4269343  PMID: 25361981
breast cancer metastases; metastasis characteristics; TEX randomized trial; gene expression; gene modules; biopsy at relapse
2.  The mTOR effectors 4EBP1 and S6K2 are frequently coexpressed, and associated with a poor prognosis and endocrine resistance in breast cancer: a retrospective study including patients from the randomised Stockholm tamoxifen trials 
mTOR and its downstream effectors the 4E-binding protein 1 (4EBP1) and the p70 ribosomal S6 kinases (S6K1 and S6K2) are frequently upregulated in breast cancer, and assumed to be driving forces in tumourigenesis, in close connection with oestrogen receptor (ER) networks. Here, we investigated these factors as clinical markers in five different cohorts of breast cancer patients.
The prognostic significance of 4EBP1, S6K1 and S6K2 mRNA expression was assessed with real-time PCR in 93 tumours from the treatment randomised Stockholm trials, encompassing postmenopausal patients enrolled between 1976 and 1990. Three publicly available breast cancer cohorts were used to confirm the results. Furthermore, the predictive values of 4EBP1 and p4EBP1_S65 protein expression for both prognosis and endocrine treatment benefit were assessed by immunohistochemical analysis of 912 node-negative breast cancers from the Stockholm trials.
S6K2 and 4EBP1 mRNA expression levels showed significant correlation and were associated with a poor outcome in all cohorts investigated. 4EBP1 protein was confirmed as an independent prognostic factor, especially in progesterone receptor (PgR)-expressing cancers. 4EBP1 protein expression was also associated with a poor response to endocrine treatment in the ER/PgR positive group. Cross-talk to genomic as well as non-genomic ER/PgR signalling may be involved and the results further support a combination of ER and mTOR signalling targeted therapies.
This study suggests S6K2 and 4EBP1 as important factors for breast tumourigenesis, interplaying with hormone receptor signalling. We propose S6K2 and 4EBP1 as new potential clinical markers for prognosis and endocrine therapy response in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3978839  PMID: 24131622
3.  Activation of Akt, mTOR, and the estrogen receptor as a signature to predict tamoxifen treatment benefit 
The frequent alterations of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR-growth signaling pathway are proposed mechanisms for resistance to endocrine therapy in breast cancer, partly through regulation of estrogen receptor α (ER) activity. Reliable biomarkers for treatment prediction are required for improved individualized treatment. We performed a retrospective immunohistochemical analysis of primary tumors from 912 postmenopausal patients with node-negative breast cancer, randomized to either tamoxifen or no adjuvant treatment. Phosphorylated (p) Akt-serine (s) 473, p-mTOR-s2448, and ER phosphorylations-s167 and -s305 were evaluated as potential biomarkers of prognosis and tamoxifen treatment efficacy. High expression of p-mTOR indicated a reduced response to tamoxifen, most pronounced in the ER+/progesterone receptor (PgR) + subgroup (tamoxifen vs. no tamoxifen: hazard ratio (HR), 0.86; 95 % confidence interval (CI), 0.31–2.38; P = 0.78), whereas low p-mTOR expression predicted tamoxifen benefit (HR, 0.29; 95 % CI, 0.18–0.49; P = 0.000002). In addition, nuclear p-Akt-s473 as well as p-ER at -s167 and/or -s305 showed interaction with tamoxifen efficacy with borderline statistical significance. A combination score of positive pathway markers including p-Akt, p-mTOR, and p-ER showed significant association with tamoxifen benefit (test for interaction; P = 0.029). Cross-talk between growth signaling pathways and ER-signaling has been proposed to affect tamoxifen response in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The results support this hypothesis, as an overactive pathway was significantly associated with reduced response to tamoxifen. A clinical pre-treatment test for cross-talk markers would be a step toward individualized adjuvant endocrine treatment with or without the addition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibitors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10549-012-2376-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3539073  PMID: 23242584
mTOR; Akt; Estrogen receptor phosphorylation; Tamoxifen resistance; Immunohistochemistry
4.  17β-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 14 Is a Predictive Marker for Tamoxifen Response in Oestrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40568.
17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (17βHSDs) are important enzymes regulating the pool of bioactive steroids in the breast. The current study was undertaken in order to evaluate implications of 17βHSD14 in breast cancer, measuring 17βHSD14 protein expression in breast tumours.
An antibody targeting the 17βHSD14 antigen was generated and validated using HSD17B14-transfected cells and a peptide-neutralising assay. Tissue microarrays with tumours from 912 post-menopausal women diagnosed with lymph node-negative breast cancer, and randomised to adjuvant tamoxifen or no endocrine treatment, were analysed for 17βHSD14 protein expression with immunohistochemistry.
Results were obtained from 847 tumours. Patients with oestrogen positive tumours with high 17βHSD14 expression had fewer local recurrences when treated with tamoxifen (HR 0.38; 95% C.I. 0.19–0.77, p = 0.007) compared to patients with lower tumoural 17βHSD14 expression, for whom tamoxifen did not reduce the number of local recurrences (HR 1.19; 95% C.I. 0.54–2.59; p = 0.66). No prognostic importance of 17βHSD14 was seen for systemically untreated patients.
Using a highly specific validated antibody for immunohistochemical analysis of a large number of breast tumours, we have shown that tumoural expression levels of 17βHSD14 can predict the outcome of adjuvant tamoxifen treatment in terms of local recurrence-free survival in patients with lymph node-negative ER+ breast cancer. The results need be verified to confirm any clinical relevance.
PMCID: PMC3391289  PMID: 22792371
5.  Predictive relevance of HOXB13 protein expression for tamoxifen benefit in breast cancer 
The HOXB13:IL17BR index has been identified to predict clinical outcome in the setting of adjuvant tamoxifen monotherapy of breast cancer. Further studies have shown that HOXB13 in particular can indicate benefit of prolonged tamoxifen treatment. Patients with high-expressing tumors did not benefit from prolonged treatment, suggesting that HOXB13 might be involved in tamoxifen resistance. No studies have been made regarding the HOXB13 protein levels in breast cancer. The aim of our study was to investigate whether tamoxifen benefit can be correlated to different levels of HOXB13 protein expression.
We used immunohistochemistry to analyze protein levels of HOXB13 in tumor samples from 912 postmenopausal node-negative breast cancer patients randomized to adjuvant tamoxifen therapy or no endocrine treatment.
Tamoxifen-treated patients with estrogen receptor-positive tumors expressing none or low levels of HOXB13 had a clear benefit from tamoxifen in terms of longer distant recurrence-free survival (DRFS) (hazard ratio = 0.38, 95% confidence interval = 0.23 to 0.60, P = 0.000048). However, for patients with a high or intermediate HOXB13 tumor expression, tamoxifen did not prolong the DRFS compared with the untreated patients (hazard ratio = 0.88, 95% confidence interval = 0.47 to 1.65, P = 0.69). Interaction between HOXB13 expression and benefit from tamoxifen was statistically significant for DRFS (P = 0.035). No prognostic value could be ascribed to HOXB13 among systemically untreated patients.
A high HOXB13 expression was associated with decreased benefit from tamoxifen, which indicates that HOXB13 protein level may be used as a predictive marker for tamoxifen treatment.
PMCID: PMC2949642  PMID: 20649975
6.  Hormone-replacement therapy influences gene expression profiles and is associated with breast-cancer prognosis: a cohort study 
BMC Medicine  2006;4:16.
Postmenopausal hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) increases breast-cancer risk. The influence of HRT on the biology of the primary tumor, however, is not well understood.
We obtained breast-cancer gene expression profiles using Affymetrix human genome U133A arrays. We examined the relationship between HRT-regulated gene profiles, tumor characteristics, and recurrence-free survival in 72 postmenopausal women.
HRT use in patients with estrogen receptor (ER) protein positive tumors (n = 72) was associated with an altered regulation of 276 genes. Expression profiles based on these genes clustered ER-positive tumors into two molecular subclasses, one of which was associated with HRT use and had significantly better recurrence free survival despite lower ER levels. A comparison with external data suggested that gene regulation in tumors associated with HRT was negatively correlated with gene regulation induced by short-term estrogen exposure, but positively correlated with the effect of tamoxifen.
Our findings suggest that post-menopausal HRT use is associated with a distinct gene expression profile related to better recurrence-free survival and lower ER protein levels. Tentatively, HRT-associated gene expression in tumors resembles the effect of tamoxifen exposure on MCF-7 cells.
PMCID: PMC1555602  PMID: 16813654
7.  Gene expression profiling spares early breast cancer patients from adjuvant therapy: derived and validated in two population-based cohorts 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(6):R953-R964.
Adjuvant breast cancer therapy significantly improves survival, but overtreatment and undertreatment are major problems. Breast cancer expression profiling has so far mainly been used to identify women with a poor prognosis as candidates for adjuvant therapy but without demonstrated value for therapy prediction.
We obtained the gene expression profiles of 159 population-derived breast cancer patients, and used hierarchical clustering to identify the signature associated with prognosis and impact of adjuvant therapies, defined as distant metastasis or death within 5 years. Independent datasets of 76 treated population-derived Swedish patients, 135 untreated population-derived Swedish patients and 78 Dutch patients were used for validation. The inclusion and exclusion criteria for the studies of population-derived Swedish patients were defined.
Among the 159 patients, a subset of 64 genes was found to give an optimal separation of patients with good and poor outcomes. Hierarchical clustering revealed three subgroups: patients who did well with therapy, patients who did well without therapy, and patients that failed to benefit from given therapy. The expression profile gave significantly better prognostication (odds ratio, 4.19; P = 0.007) (breast cancer end-points odds ratio, 10.64) compared with the Elston–Ellis histological grading (odds ratio of grade 2 vs 1 and grade 3 vs 1, 2.81 and 3.32 respectively; P = 0.24 and 0.16), tumor stage (odds ratio of stage 2 vs 1 and stage 3 vs 1, 1.11 and 1.28; P = 0.83 and 0.68) and age (odds ratio, 0.11; P = 0.55). The risk groups were consistent and validated in the independent Swedish and Dutch data sets used with 211 and 78 patients, respectively.
We have identified discriminatory gene expression signatures working both on untreated and systematically treated primary breast cancer patients with the potential to spare them from adjuvant therapy.
PMCID: PMC1410752  PMID: 16280042
8.  Genotype of metabolic enzymes and the benefit of tamoxifen in postmenopausal breast cancer patients 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(3):R284-R290.
Tamoxifen is widely used as endocrine therapy for oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer. However, many of these patients experience recurrence despite tamoxifen therapy by incompletely understood mechanisms. In the present report we propose that tamoxifen resistance may be due to differences in activity of metabolic enzymes as a result of genetic polymorphism. Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) and sulfotransferase 1A1 (SULT1A1) are polymorphic and are involved in the metabolism of tamoxifen. The CYP2D6*4 and SULT1A1*2 genotypes result in decreased enzyme activity. We therefore investigated the genotypes of CYP2D6 and SULT1A1 in 226 breast cancer patients participating in a trial of adjuvant tamoxifen treatment in order to validate the benefit from the therapy.
The patients were genotyped using PCR followed by cleavage with restriction enzymes.
Carriers of the CYP2D6*4 allele demonstrated a decreased risk of recurrence when treated with tamoxifen (relative risk = 0.28, 95% confidence interval = 0.11–0.74, P = 0.0089). A similar pattern was seen among the SULT1A1*1 homozygotes (relative risk = 0.48, 95% confidence interval = 0.21–1.12, P = 0.074). The combination of CYP2D6*4 and/or SULT1A1*1/*1 genotypes comprised 60% of the patients and showed a 62% decreased risk of distant recurrence with tamoxifen (relative risk = 0.38, 95% confidence interval = 0.19–0.74, P = 0.0041).
The present study suggests that genotype of metabolic enzymes might be useful as a guide for adjuvant endocrine treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer patients. However, results are in contradiction to prior hypotheses and the present sample size is relatively small. Findings therefore need to be confirmed in a larger cohort.
PMCID: PMC1143572  PMID: 15987423
breast cancer; CYP2D6; polymorphism; SULT1A1; tamoxifen
9.  Diagnosis of High-Grade Osteosarcoma by Radiology and Cytology: A Retrospective Study of 52 Cases 
Sarcoma  2004;8(1):31-36.
The diagnostic value of combined radiology and fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) was retrospectively assessed in a consecutive series of 52 patients with high-grade osteosarcoma. The series was divided into typical and atypical osteosarcomas according to radiological features and site. Thirty-two of 33 radiologically typical osteosarcoma cases were correctly diagnosed by cytology; one lesion was diagnosed as sarcoma NOS. Nineteen osteosarcoma cases were radiographically atypical. Six of these were diagnosed as osteosarcoma and another six as sarcoma NOS. In three cases another type of sarcoma was suggested. One case was falsely classified as benign. FNAC of three cases were non-diagnostic. Overall, the diagnostic difficulties pertained to the radiologically atypical cases. Notably, four of these also posed considerable difficulties in the histopathological assessment prompting external consultation. Our study suggests that open biopsy can be obviated in high-grade osteosarcomas exhibiting typical radiological features, i.e., in two-thirds.
PMCID: PMC2395604  PMID: 18521391
10.  Akt kinases in breast cancer and the results of adjuvant therapy 
Breast Cancer Research  2003;5(2):R37-R44.
The serine/threonine kinase Akt, or protein kinase B, has recently been a focus of interest because of its activity to inhibit apoptosis. It mediates cell survival by acting as a transducer of signals from growth factor receptors that activate phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase.
We analysed the expression of the isoforms Akt1 and Akt2 as well as phosphorylated Akt (pAkt) by immunohistochemistry in frozen tumour samples from 280 postmenopausal patients who participated in a randomised trial comparing cyclophosphamide–methotrexate–5-fluorouracil chemotherapy and postoperative radiotherapy. The patients were simultaneously randomised to tamoxifen or to no endocrine treatment.
Marked staining was found in 24% of the tumours for Akt1, but in only 4% for Akt2. A low frequency of Akt2-positive cells (1–10%) was observed in another 26% of the tumours. pAkt was significantly associated with both Akt1 and Akt2 expression. Overexpression of erbB2 correlated significantly with pAkt (P = 0.0028). The benefit from tamoxifen was analysed in oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients. Patients with a negative status of Akt (no overexpression of Akt1, Akt2 or pAkt) showed significant benefit from tamoxifen. The relative rate of distant recurrence, with versus without tamoxifen, was 0.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.25–0.79) for ER+/Akt1- patients, while it was 0.72 (95% CI, 0.34–1.53) for ER+/Akt1+ patients. The difference in rate ratio did not reach statistical significance. The rate of locoregional recurrence was significantly decreased with radiotherapy versus chemotherapy for Akt-negative patients (rate ratio, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.08–0.67; P = 0.0074), while no benefit was evident for the Akt-positive subgroup (rate ratio, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.31–1.9; P = 0.58). The interaction between Akt and the efficacy of radiotherapy was significant in multivariate analysis (P = 0.042).
Activation of the Akt pathway is correlated with erbB2 overexpression in breast cancer. The results suggest that Akt may predict the local control benefit from radiotherapy.
PMCID: PMC154147  PMID: 12631397
erbB2; HER-2/neu; protein kinase B; radiotherapy; tamoxifen; treatment outcome
11.  Structure and Biological Activity of Deoxyribonucleic Acid from Bacillus Bacteriophage φ105: Effects of Escherichia coli Exonucleases 1 
Journal of Virology  1971;7(3):359-371.
The effects of Escherichia coli exonuclease I, exonuclease III, and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase on the biological activity of mature DNA from temperate Bacillus bacteriophage φ105 were investigated. Intact DNA loses infectivity rapidly upon exposure to exonuclease III. Although there is an overall decrease in marker rescue from exonuclease III-digested DNA, digestion preferentially affects markers at the end of the genetic map. This is taken to indicate a nonpermuted gene sequence in mature DNA. Incubation of mature DNA in the presence of exonuclease I or DNA polymerase has no effect on its biological activity. The possible structure of the ends of mature φ105 DNA is discussed. The rate of digestion of mature φ105 DNA by exonuclease III is only about 1/20 the rate of λ DNA. Results of digestion of various DNA substrates by exonuclease III indicate that the enzyme distinguishes between different DNA terminal structures.
PMCID: PMC356126  PMID: 4323711
12.  Deoxyribonucleotide Pools and Deoxyribonucleic Acid Synthesis in Mouse Embryo Cells Infected with Three Classes of Polyoma Virus Particles 
Journal of Virology  1970;6(1):28-32.
Polyoma virus particles were purified by equilibrium centrifugation in CsCl. Particles from three regions of the density gradient were examined for infectivity, for their ability to induce expanded pools of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) precursors, and for their ability to stimulate the synthesis of DNA. The most infectious population of particles, the virions, having a buoyant density of 1.33 g/ml, gave the greatest stimulation of the DNA-synthesizing apparatus of mouse embryo cells. Empty particles at density 1.29 g/ml had no DNA stimulatory activity. A population of particles of intermediate density, referred to as pseudovirions, was also much less active than virions in stimulating DNA synthesis, and the limited stimulatory activity of the latter fraction may be accounted for by its measured contamination with infective particles.
PMCID: PMC376086  PMID: 4319480

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