Discovery and validation of a transcriptional signature identifying homologous recombination-deficient breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers

Br J Cancer. 2022 Oct;127(6):1123-1132. doi: 10.1038/s41416-022-01900-9. Epub 2022 Jun 25.


Background: Molecular alterations leading to homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) are heterogeneous. We aimed to identify a transcriptional profile shared by endometrial (UCEC), breast (BRCA) and ovarian (OV) cancers with HRD.

Methods: Genes differentially expressed with HRD genomic score (continuous gHRD score) in UCEC/BRCA/OV were identified using edgeR, and used to train a RNAseq score (ridge-regression model) predictive of the gHRD score (PanCanAtlas, N = 1684 samples). The RNAseq score was applied in independent gynaecological datasets (CARPEM/CPTAC/SCAN/TCGA, N = 4038 samples). Validations used ROC curves, linear regressions and Pearson correlations. Overall survival (OS) analyses used Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox models.

Results: In total, 656 genes were commonly up/downregulated with gHRD score in UCEC/BRCA/OV. Upregulated genes were enriched for nuclear/chromatin/DNA-repair processes, while downregulated genes for cytoskeleton (gene ontologies). The RNAseq score correlated with gHRD score in independent gynaecological cancers (R² = 0.4-0.7, Pearson correlation = 0.64-0.86, all P < 10-11), and was predictive of gHRD score >42 (RNAseq HRD profile; AUC = 0.95/0.92/0.78 in UCEC/BRCA/OV). RNAseq HRD profile was associated (i) with better OS in platinum-treated advanced TP53-mutated-UCEC (P < 0.001) and OV (P = 0.013), and (ii) with poorer OS (P < 0.001) and higher benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in Stage I-III BRCA (interaction test, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: UCEC/BRCA/OV with HRD-associated genomic scars share a common transcriptional profile. RNAseq signatures might be relevant for identifying HRD-gynaecological cancers, for prognostication and for therapeutic decision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein* / genetics
  • DNA Repair
  • Female
  • Homologous Recombination / genetics
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein