HER2, chromosome 17 polysomy and DNA ploidy status in breast cancer; a translational study

Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 12;9(1):11679. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48212-2.


Breast cancer treatment depends on human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) status, which is often determined using dual probe fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). Hereby, also loss and gain of the centromere of chromosome 17 (CEP17) can be observed (HER2 is located on chromosome 17). CEP17 gain can lead to difficulty in interpretation of HER2 status, since this might represent true polysomy. With this study we investigated whether isolated polysomy is present and how this effects HER2 status in six breast cancer cell lines and 97 breast cancer cases, using HER2 FISH and immunohistochemistry, DNA ploidy assessment and multiplex ligation dependent probe amplification. We observed no isolated polysomy of chromosome 17 in any cell line. However, FISH analysis did show CEP17 gain in five of six cell lines, which reflected gains of the whole chromosome in metaphase spreads and aneuploidy with gain of multiple chromosomes in all these cases. In patients' samples, gain of CEP17 indeed correlated with aneuploidy of the tumour (91.1%; p < 0.001). Our results indicate that CEP17 gain is not due to isolated polysomy, but rather due to widespread aneuploidy with gain of multiple chromosomes. As aneuploidy is associated with poor clinical outcome, irrespective of tumour grade, this could improve future therapeutic decision making.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Centromere / chemistry*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 17 / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gene Duplication
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Ploidies
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / genetics*


  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2