Introduction: Few studies have performed expression profiling of both miRNA and mRNA from the same primary breast carcinomas. In this study we present and analyze data derived from expression profiling of 799 miRNAs in 101 primary human breast tumors, along with genome-wide mRNA profiles and extensive clinical information.
Methods: We investigate the relationship between these molecular components, in terms of their correlation with each other and with clinical characteristics. We use a systems biology approach to examine the correlative relationship between miRNA and mRNAs using statistical enrichment methods.
Results: We identify statistical significant differential expression of miRNAs between molecular intrinsic subtypes, and between samples with different levels of proliferation. Specifically, we point to miRNAs significantly associated with TP53 and ER status. We also show that several cellular processes, such as proliferation, cell adhesion and immune response, are strongly associated with certain miRNAs. We validate the role of miRNAs in regulating proliferation using high-throughput lysate-microarrays on cell lines and point to potential drivers of this process.
Conclusion: This study provides a comprehensive dataset as well as methods and system-level results that jointly form a basis for further work on understanding the role of miRNA in primary breast cancer.