Expression of the BAD pathway is a marker of triple-negative status and poor outcome

Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 25;9(1):17496. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-53695-0.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) has few therapeutic targets, making nonspecific chemotherapy the main treatment. Therapies enhancing cancer cell sensitivity to cytotoxic agents could significantly improve patient outcomes. A BCL2-associated agonist of cell death (BAD) pathway gene expression signature (BPGES) was derived using principal component analysis (PCA) and evaluated for associations with the TNBC phenotype and clinical outcomes. Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the relative expression levels of phospho-BAD isoforms in tumour samples. Cell survival assays evaluated the effects of BAD pathway inhibition on chemo-sensitivity. BPGES score was associated with TNBC status and overall survival (OS) in breast cancer samples of the Moffitt Total Cancer Care dataset and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). TNBC tumours were enriched for the expression of phospho-BAD isoforms. Further, the BPGES was associated with TNBC status in breast cancer cell lines of the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE). Targeted inhibition of kinases known to phosphorylate BAD protein resulted in increased sensitivity to platinum agents in TNBC cell lines compared to non-TNBC cell lines. The BAD pathway is associated with triple-negative status and OS. TNBC tumours were enriched for the expression of phosphorylated BAD protein compared to non-TNBC tumours. These findings suggest that the BAD pathway it is an important determinant of TNBC clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phosphorylation
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Survival Analysis
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • bcl-Associated Death Protein / metabolism


  • BAD protein, human
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • bcl-Associated Death Protein