Background: Cancer cell proliferation is a critical feature in classifying and predicting the outcome of breast carcinoma. Separase has a central role in cell cycle progression in unleashing sister-chromatids at anaphase onset. Abnormally functioning separase is known to lead to chromosomal instability.
Methods: The study comprises 349 breast carcinoma patients treated in Central Hospital of Central Finland. The prognostic value, role as a proliferation marker and regulatory interactions of separase are evaluated by immunohistochemical and double- and triple-immunofluorescence (IF) detections based on complete clinical data and >22-year follow-up of the patient material.
Results: In our material, abnormal separase expression predicted doubled risk of breast cancer death (P<0.001). Up to 11.3-year survival difference was observed when comparing patients with and without separase expressing cancer cell mitoses. Particularly, abnormal separase expression predicted impaired survival for luminal breast carcinoma (P<0.001, respectively). In multivariate analyses, abnormal separase expression showed independent prognostic value. The complex inhibitory interactions involving securin and cyclin B1 were investigated in double- and triple-IFs and revealed patient subgroups with aberrant regulation and expression patterns of separase.
Conclusions: In our experience, separase is a promising and clinically applicable proliferation marker. Separase expression shows strong and independent prognostic value and could be developed into a biomarker for treatment decisions in breast carcinoma, particularly defining prognostic subgroups among luminal carcinomas.