The molecular scenario of breast cancer has become more complex in the last few years. Distinguishing between BRCA-associated, sporadic, HER2-enriched and triple-negative tumors is not sufficient to allow effective clinical management. Basal-like breast cancer, a subtype of triple-negative breast cancer, differs from others grouped under this heading. Commonalities between BRCA-related tumors and basal-like breast cancers (BRCAness phenotype) are highly relevant to ongoing clinical trials, in particular those investigating targeted therapies (e.g. PARP inhibitors) in sporadic breast tumors. The 'gold standard' to identify basal-like phenotype is DNA microarray, but integrated results could provide a panel of biomarkers helpful in identifying 'BRCAness' tumors (e.g. copy number aberrations, abnormal protein localization and altered transcriptional levels) and other molecular targets, such as APE1,the inhibition of which is emerging as an attractive breast cancer treatment in certain therapeutic settings.
Keywords: APE1; BRCAness; DNA repair; PARP inhibitors; basal-like; triple-negative breast cancer.