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      Changes of N6-methyladenosine modulators promote breast cancer progression

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          Breast cancer (BC) displays striking genetic, epigenetic and phenotypic diversity. N 6-methyladenosine (m6A) in mRNA has emerged as a crucial epitranscriptomic modification that controls cancer self-renewal and cell fate. However, the key enzymes of m6A expression and function in human breast carcinogenesis remain unclear.


          The expression of m6A methylases (METTL3, METTL14 and WTAP) and demethylases (FTO and ALKBH5) were analyzed by using ONCOMINE and The Cancer Genome Atlas databases and in 36 pairs of BC and adjacent non-cancerous tissue. The level of m6A in BC patients was detected by ELISA, and the function of m6A was analyzed by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, colony formation assay and transwell assay. The database of bc-GenExMiner v4.0, Kaplan-Meier Plotter and cBioPortal were queried for correlation, mutation and prognosis analysis of BC.


          The m6A methylases and demethylases were dysregulated in several major malignant tumors. Specifically, the expression of all m6A methylases was reduced in BC as compared with normal controls, but the demethylase ALKBH5 was induced in ONCOMINE databases and confirmed in clinical patients. METTL14 expression was positively correlated with METTL3 expression, and both showed high expression in normal breast-like and luminal-A and -B BC. Functionally, reducing m6A expression by overexpressing METTL14 and/or knockdown of ALKBH5 could inhibit breast cell viability, colony formation and cell migration. Furthermore, Kaplan-Meier, meta-analysis and univariate Cox assay showed that the expression of m6A members including METTL3, METTL14, WTAP and FTO but not their gene mutation and amplification, was tightly associated with cancer progression and poor survival.


          Changes of m6A modulators reduced m6A may promote tumorigenesis and predict poor prognosis in BC.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12885-019-5538-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Stromal gene expression predicts clinical outcome in breast cancer.

          Although it is increasingly evident that cancer is influenced by signals emanating from tumor stroma, little is known regarding how changes in stromal gene expression affect epithelial tumor progression. We used laser capture microdissection to compare gene expression profiles of tumor stroma from 53 primary breast tumors and derived signatures strongly associated with clinical outcome. We present a new stroma-derived prognostic predictor (SDPP) that stratifies disease outcome independently of standard clinical prognostic factors and published expression-based predictors. The SDPP predicts outcome in several published whole tumor-derived expression data sets, identifies poor-outcome individuals from multiple clinical subtypes, including lymph node-negative tumors, and shows increased accuracy with respect to previously published predictors, especially for HER2-positive tumors. Prognostic power increases substantially when the predictor is combined with existing outcome predictors. Genes represented in the SDPP reveal the strong prognostic capacity of differential immune responses as well as angiogenic and hypoxic responses, highlighting the importance of stromal biology in tumor progression.
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            X chromosomal abnormalities in basal-like human breast cancer.

            Sporadic basal-like cancers (BLC) are a distinct class of human breast cancers that are phenotypically similar to BRCA1-associated cancers. Like BRCA1-deficient tumors, most BLC lack markers of a normal inactive X chromosome (Xi). Duplication of the active X chromosome and loss of Xi characterized almost half of BLC cases tested. Others contained biparental but nonheterochromatinized X chromosomes or gains of X chromosomal DNA. These abnormalities did not lead to a global increase in X chromosome transcription but were associated with overexpression of a small subset of X chromosomal genes. Other, equally aneuploid, but non-BLC rarely displayed these X chromosome abnormalities. These results suggest that X chromosome abnormalities contribute to the pathogenesis of BLC, both inherited and sporadic.
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              Novel markers for differentiation of lobular and ductal invasive breast carcinomas by laser microdissection and microarray analysis

              Background Invasive ductal and lobular carcinomas (IDC and ILC) are the most common histological types of breast cancer. Clinical follow-up data and metastatic patterns suggest that the development and progression of these tumors are different. The aim of our study was to identify gene expression profiles of IDC and ILC in relation to normal breast epithelial cells. Methods We examined 30 samples (normal ductal and lobular cells from 10 patients, IDC cells from 5 patients, ILC cells from 5 patients) microdissected from cryosections of ten mastectomy specimens from postmenopausal patients. Fifty nanograms of total RNA were amplified and labeled by PCR and in vitro transcription. Samples were analysed upon Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 Arrays. The expression of seven differentially expressed genes (CDH1, EMP1, DDR1, DVL1, KRT5, KRT6, KRT17) was verified by immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays. Expression of ASPN mRNA was validated by in situ hybridization on frozen sections, and CTHRC1, ASPN and COL3A1 were tested by PCR. Results Using GCOS pairwise comparison algorithm and rank products we have identified 84 named genes common to ILC versus normal cell types, 74 named genes common to IDC versus normal cell types, 78 named genes differentially expressed between normal ductal and lobular cells, and 28 named genes between IDC and ILC. Genes distinguishing between IDC and ILC are involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition, TGF-beta and Wnt signaling. These changes were present in both tumor types but appeared to be more prominent in ILC. Immunohistochemistry for several novel markers (EMP1, DVL1, DDR1) distinguished large sets of IDC from ILC. Conclusion IDC and ILC can be differentiated both at the gene and protein levels. In this study we report two candidate genes, asporin (ASPN) and collagen triple helix repeat containing 1 (CTHRC1) which might be significant in breast carcinogenesis. Besides E-cadherin, the proteins validated on tissue microarrays (EMP1, DVL1, DDR1) may represent novel immunohistochemical markers helpful in distinguishing between IDC and ILC. Further studies with larger sets of patients are needed to verify the gene expression profiles of various histological types of breast cancer in order to determine molecular subclassifications, prognosis and the optimum treatment strategies.

                Author and article information

                +86-577-88002926 ,
                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BMC Cancer
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 April 2019
                5 April 2019
                : 19
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1764 2632, GRID grid.417384.d, Department of Cardiology, , The Second Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, ; 109 Xueyuan Road, Wenzhou, 325027 Zhejiang China
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1808 3502, GRID grid.412651.5, The Thoracic Department of Harbin Medical University Cancer Hospital, ; 150 Haping Road, Harbin, 150040 China
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1808 3502, GRID grid.412651.5, The Fourth Department of Medical Oncology, , Harbin Medical University Cancer Hospital, ; 150 Haping Road, Harbin, 150040 China
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7400, GRID grid.256304.6, Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine, , Georgia State University, ; 157 Decatur Street SE, Atlanta, GA 30303 USA
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2019

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                migration; transcription, n6-methyladenosine, breast cancer, prognosis


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