Triple-negative breast cancer is characterized by the absence of estrogen and progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, and is associated with a poorer outcome than other subtypes of breast cancer. Moreover, there are no accurate prognostic genes or effective therapeutic targets, thereby necessitating continued intensive investigation. This study analyzed the genetic mutation landscape in 70 patients with triple-negative breast cancer by targeted exome sequencing of tumor and matched normal samples. Sequencing showed that more than 50% of these patients had deleterious mutations and homozygous deletions of DNA repair genes, such as ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, WRN, and CHEK2. These findings suggested that a large number of patients with triple-negative breast cancer have impaired DNA repair function and that therefore a poly ADP-ribose polymerase inhibitor may be an effective drug in the treatment of this disease. Notably, homozygous deletion of three genes, EPHA5, MITF, and ACSL3, was significantly associated with an increased risk of recurrence or distant metastasis in adjuvant chemotherapy-treated patients.
Keywords: DNA repair pathway; copy number variation; single nucleotide variant; targeted exome sequencing; triple-negative breast cancer.