Identification of candidate genes associated with triple negative breast cancer

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When triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) are analyzed by gene expression profiling different subclasses are identified, at least one characterized by genes related to immune signaling mechanisms supporting the role of these genes in the cancers. In an earlier study we observed differences in TNBC cell lines with respect to their expression of the cytokine IL32. Our analyses showed that certain cell lines expressed higher levels of the cytokine compared to others. Because TNBC are heterogeneous and immune-related genes appear to play a pivotal role in these cancers, we chose to examine the transcriptomes of the different cell lines based on IL32 expression. We performed group analyses of TNBC cell lines demonstrating high IL32 compared to low IL32 levels and identified IL32, GATA3, MYBL1, ETS1, PTX3 and TMEM158 as differentially associated with a subpopulation of TNBC. The six candidate genes were validated experimental and in different patient datasets. The genes distinguished a subset of TNBC from other TNBC, and TNBC from normal, luminal A, luminal B, and HER2 patient samples. The current project serves as a preliminary study in which we outline the discovery and validation of our list of six candidate genes.