Purpose: We studied the expression levels of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 and the implications of cyclin overexpression for patient outcomes in distinct breast cancer subtypes defined by clinical variables and transcriptional profiling.
Experimental design: The expression levels of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 were quantified in 779 breast tumors and 53 cell lines using reverse phase protein arrays and/or transcriptional profiling.
Results: Whereas cyclin E1 overexpression was a specific marker of triple-negative and basal-like tumors, cyclin B1 overexpression occurred in poor prognosis hormone receptor-positive, luminal B and basal-like breast cancers. Cyclin D1 overexpression occurred in luminal and normal-like cancers. Breast cancer subgroups defined by integrated expression of cyclins B1, D1, and E1 correlated significantly (P < 0.000001) with tumor subtypes defined by transcriptional profiling and clinical criteria. Across three hormone receptor-positive data sets, cyclin B1 was the dominant cyclin associated with poor prognosis in univariate and multivariate analyses. Although CCNE1 was present in significantly higher copy numbers in basal-like versus other subtypes (ANOVA P < 0.001), CCNB1 gene copy number did not show gain in breast cancer. Instead, cyclin B1 expression was increased in tumors with co-occurrence of TP53 mutations and MYC amplification, a combination that seems to characterize basal-like and luminal B tumors. CCNB1 gene expression was significantly correlated with PLK, CENPE, and AURKB gene expression.
Conclusion: Cyclins B1, D1, and E1 have distinct expressions in different breast cancer subtypes. Novel PLK, CENPE, and AURKB inhibitors should be assessed for therapeutic utility in poor prognosis cyclin B1-overexpressing breast cancers.