Deconstructing the molecular portrait of basal-like breast cancer

Trends Mol Med. 2006 Nov;12(11):537-44. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2006.09.004. Epub 2006 Sep 29.


Gene-expression profiling has revealed several molecular subtypes of breast cancer, which differ in their pathobiology and clinical outcomes. Basal-like tumors are a newly recognized subtype of breast cancer, which express genes that are characteristic of basal epithelial cells, such as the basal cytokeratins, and are associated with poor relapse-free and overall survival. However, the genetic and epigenetic alterations that are responsible for the biologically aggressive phenotype of these estrogen receptor-negative and HER2/ErbB2-negative tumors are not well understood, thereby hindering efforts to develop targeted therapies. Here, we focus on new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of basal-like breast cancer and explore how these discoveries might impact the treatment of these poor-prognosis tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / etiology
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell / therapy
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta-Crystallin A Chain / metabolism


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • beta-Crystallin A Chain
  • Receptor, ErbB-2