The clinical course of breast cancer varies from one patient to another. Currently, the choice of therapy relies on clinical parameters and histological and molecular tumor features. Alas, these markers are informative in only a subset of patients. Therefore, additional predictors of disease outcome would be valuable for treatment stratification. Extensive studies showed that the degree of variation of the nuclear DNA content, i.e., aneuploidy, determines prognosis. Our aim was to further elucidate the molecular basis of aneuploidy. We analyzed five diploid and six aneuploid tumors with more than 20 years of follow-up. By performing FISH with a multiplexed panel of 10 probes to enumerate copy numbers in individual cells, and by sequencing 563 cancer-related genes, we analyzed how aneuploidy is linked to intratumor heterogeneity. In our cohort, none of the patients with diploid tumors died of breast cancer during follow-up in contrast to four of six patients with aneuploid tumors (mean survival 86.4 months). The FISH analysis showed markedly increased genomic instability and intratumor heterogeneity in aneuploid tumors. MYC gain was observed in only 20% of the diploid cancers, while all aneuploid cases showed a gain. The mutation burden was similar in diploid and aneuploid tumors, however, TP53 mutations were not observed in diploid tumors, but in all aneuploid tumors in our collective. We conclude that quantitative measurements of intratumor heterogeneity by multiplex FISH, detection of MYC amplification and TP53 mutation could augment prognostication in breast cancer patients.
Keywords: FISH; MYC amplification; TP53 mutations; aneuploidy; breast cancer; intratumor heterogeneity.
Published 2018. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.