Actionable co-alterations in breast tumors with pathogenic mutations in the homologous recombination DNA damage repair pathway

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Nov;184(2):265-275. doi: 10.1007/s10549-020-05849-2. Epub 2020 Aug 10.


Purpose: Homologous recombination (HR)-deficient breast tumors may have genomic alterations that predict response to treatment with PARP inhibitors and other targeted therapies.

Methods: Comprehensive molecular profiles of 4647 breast tumors performed at Caris Life Sciences using 592-gene NGS were reviewed to identify somatic pathogenic mutations in HR genes ARID1A, ATM, ATRX, BAP1, BARD1, BLM, BRCA1/2, BRIP1, CHEK1/2, FANCA/C/D2/E/F/G/L, KMT2D, MRE11, NBN, PALB2, RAD50/51/51B, and WRN, as well as 41 markers that may be associated with treatment response to targeted anticancer therapies.

Results: 17.9% of breast tumors had HR mutations (HR-MT, 831/4647) [ER/PR+ , HER2- 18.3%, n = 2183; TNBC 18.2%, n = 1568; ER/PR+ , HER2+ 15.6%, n = 237; ER/PR-, HER2+ 12.9%, n = 217; unknown n = 442]. Mean TMB was higher for HR-MT tumors across subtypes (9.2 mut/Mb vs 7.6 h-wild type (HR-WT), p ≤ 0.0001) and independent of microsatellite status. MSI-H/dMMR was more frequent among HR-MT tumors (2.1% HR-MT vs 0.2% HR-WT, p ≤ 0.0001), as was tumor PD-L1 overexpression (13.2% HR-MT vs 11.0% HR-WT, p = 0.08). Additional co-alterations were similar between HR-MT and HR-WT, with the exception of PIK3CA (30.3% HR-WT vs 26.4% HR-MT, p = 0.024) and AKT1 (3.7% HR-WT vs 2.1% HR-MT, p = 0.021). AR overexpression and PIK3CA mutations were more common among ER/PR+ tumors. ERBB2 mutations were seen in both HER2+ and HER2- tumors.

Conclusions: HR-MT was common across breast cancer subtypes and co-occurred more frequently with markers of response to immunotherapy (MSI-H/dMMR, TMB) compared to HR-WT tumors. Mutations were identified in both HR-MT and HR-WT tumors that suggest other targets for treatment. Clinical trials combining HRD-targeted agents and immunotherapy are underway and could be enriched through comprehensive molecular profiling.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Co-alterations; Homologous recombination deficiency; Molecular profiling.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • DNA Damage
  • Female
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAP1 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase