Overexpression of MAL2 Correlates with Immune Infiltration and Poor Prognosis in Breast Cancer

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Sep 9;2021:5557873. doi: 10.1155/2021/5557873. eCollection 2021.


Background: Myelin and lymphocyte, T cell differentiation protein 2 (MAL2) is highly expressed in various cancers and associated with the development and prognosis of cancer. However, the relationship between MAL2 and breast cancer requires further investigation. This study aimed to explore the prognostic significance of MAL2 in breast cancer.

Methods: MAL2 expression was initially assessed using the Oncomine database and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database and verified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The chi-square test or Fisher's exact test was used to explore the association between clinical characteristics and MAL2 expression. The prognostic value of MAL2 in breast cancer was assessed by the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression analysis. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was performed to identify the biological pathways correlated with MAL2 expression in breast cancer. Besides, a single-sample GSEA (ssGSEA) was used to assess the relationship between the level of immune infiltration and MAL2 in breast cancer.

Results: Both bioinformatics and RT-qPCR results showed that MAL2 was expressed at high levels in breast cancer tissues compared with the adjacent tissues. The chi-square test or Fisher's exact test indicated that MAL2 expression was related to stage, M classification, and vital status. Kaplan-Meier curves implicated that high MAL2 expression was significantly associated with the poor prognosis. Cox regression models showed that high MAL2 expression could be an independent risk factor for breast cancer. GSEA showed that 14 signaling pathways were enriched in the high-MAL2-expression group. Besides, the MAL2 expression level negatively correlated with infiltrating levels of eosinophils and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in breast cancer.

Conclusion: Overexpression of MAL2 correlates with poor prognosis and lower immune infiltrating levels of eosinophils and plasmacytoid dendritic cells in breast cancer and may become a biomarker for breast cancer prognosis.