SCUBE2 as a Marker of Resistance to Taxane-based Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy and a Potential Therapeutic Target in Breast Cancer

Eur J Breast Health. 2023 Jan 1;19(1):45-54. doi: 10.4274/ejbh.galenos.2022.2022-8-2. eCollection 2023 Jan.


Objective: Taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the most common neoadjuvant approach in breast cancer, especially in human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive and triple-negative subtypes. However, chemoresistance is a problem in many patients, and success rates are low in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. The aim of this study was to identify predictive markers for resistance to taxane-based therapy, which may have a potential as therapeutic targets in breast cancer.

Materials and methods: Three comprehensive breast cancer Gene Expression Omnibus datasets were analyzed to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in breast cancer patients resistant to taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Functional annotation clustering and enrichment analysis were performed on the DEGs list. A protein-protein interaction network was established with the upregulated genes. The predictive value and the differential expression of the central genes were validated in the extensive ROC Plotter database.

Results: Seventeen upregulated genes were found which were associated with resistance to taxane-based neoadjuvant therapy and high connectivity in the network analysis. ESR1, CCND1, and SCUBE2 emerged as the top three key genes associated with resistance. SCUBE2 displayed a high predictive power comparable to ESR1, and better than CCND1, the two commonly accepted markers. The predictive ability of SCUBE2 was higher in ER-positive and HER2-positive breast cancers.

Conclusion: These results suggest that SCUBE2 may be used as a predictive marker to guide decisions on neoadjuvant therapy. Emerging evidence about the role of SCUBE2 as a coreceptor involved in tumor progression and angiogenesis also suggests SCUBE2 as a potential therapeutic target. These points should be investigated in further studies.

Keywords: Breast cancer; SCUBE2; bioinformatics; biomarkers; chemoresistance; neoadjuvant chemotherapy.