1. School of Biotechnology, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
2. Wuxi School of Medicine, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
3. Wuxi Cancer Institute, Affiliated Hospital of Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
Having markers feasible for breast cancer subtyping, especially for triple negative breast cancer identification is crucial for improving the treatment outcome of such cancers. Here we explore the role of FOXA1 in characterizing triple negative breast cancers and the driving mechanisms. Through in vitro examination of the expression pattern at both transcriptional and translational levels, patient relapse-free survival analysis, immunohistochemistry staining and prediction power assessment using clinical samples, as well as functional studies, we systematically compared the role of FOXA1 in identifying triple negative and luminal type of breast cancers and explored the mechanisms driving such functionalities. We report that FOXA1 under-expression can lead to increased malignancy and cancer stemness, and is a subtyping marker identifying triple negative breast cancers rather than the luminal subtype by transcriptionally suppressing the expression of SOD2 and IL6. We are the first to systematically address the significance of FOXA1 in triple negative breast cancer identification as a biomarker and elucidate the mechanism at the molecular level, through a sequential bioinformatics analysis and experimental validations both in vitro and in clinics. Our discoveries compliment the current biomarker modalities once verified using larger clinical cohorts and improve the precision on characterizing breast cancer heterogeneity.
Keywords: FOXA1, SOD2, IL6, breast cancer, molecular subtyping, triple negative subtype