Comparative analysis of the molecular subtype landscape in canine and human mammary gland tumors

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2022 Jun;27(2):171-183. doi: 10.1007/s10911-022-09523-9. Epub 2022 Aug 6.


Breast cancers in humans belong to one of several intrinsic molecular subtypes each with different tumor biology and different clinical impact. Mammary gland tumors in dogs are proposed as a relevant comparative model for human breast cancer; however, it is still unclear whether the intrinsic molecular subtypes have the same significance in dogs and humans. Using publicly available data, we analyzed gene expression and whole-exome sequencing data from 158 canine mammary gland tumors. We performed molecular subtyping using the PAM50 method followed by subtype-specific comparisons of gene expression characteristics, mutation patterns and copy number profiles between canine tumors and human breast tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) breast cancer cohort (n = 1097). We found that luminal A canine tumors greatly resemble luminal A human tumors both in gene expression characteristics, mutations and copy number profiles. Also, the basal-like canine and human tumors were relatively similar, with low expression of luminal epithelial markers and high expression of genes involved in cell proliferation. There were, however, distinct differences in immune-related gene expression patterns in basal-like tumors between the two species. Characteristic HER2-enriched and luminal B subtypes were not present in the canine cohort, and we found no tumors with high-level ERBB2 amplifications. Benign and malignant canine tumors displayed similar PAM50 subtype characteristics. Our findings indicate that deeper understanding of the different molecular subtypes in canine mammary gland tumors will further improve the value of canines as comparative models for human breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Canine tumor models; Comparative models; Molecular subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Human* / pathology
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal* / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor