Chromosome 1q21.3 amplification is a trackable biomarker and actionable target for breast cancer recurrence.

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Nature medicine


Animals; Antineoplastic Agents; Biomarkers, Tumor; Breast Neoplasms; Bridged-Ring Compounds; Cell-Free Nucleic Acids; Chromosomes, Human, Pair 1; Disease Progression; Female; Heterografts; Humans; In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence; Mice; Neoplasm Recurrence, Local; Polymerase Chain Reaction; Pyrimidines; Treatment Outcome


Tumor recurrence remains the main reason for breast cancer-associated mortality, and there are unmet clinical demands for the discovery of new biomarkers and development of treatment solutions to benefit patients with breast cancer at high risk of recurrence. Here we report the identification of chromosomal copy-number amplification at 1q21.3 that is enriched in subpopulations of breast cancer cells bearing characteristics of tumor-initiating cells (TICs) and that strongly associates with breast cancer recurrence. Amplification is present in ∼10-30% of primary tumors but in more than 70% of recurrent tumors, regardless of breast cancer subtype. Detection of amplification in cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from blood is strongly associated with early relapse in patients with breast cancer and could also be used to track the emergence of tumor resistance to chemotherapy. We further show that 1q21.3-encoded S100 calcium-binding protein (S100A) family members, mainly S100A7, S100A8, and S100A9 (S100A7/8/9), and IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) establish a reciprocal feedback loop driving tumorsphere growth. Notably, this functional circuitry can be disrupted by the small-molecule kinase inhibitor pacritinib, leading to preferential impairment of the growth of 1q21.3-amplified breast tumors. Our study uncovers the 1q21.3-directed S100A7/8/9-IRAK1 feedback loop as a crucial component of breast cancer recurrence, serving as both a trackable biomarker and an actionable therapeutic target for breast cancer.

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