Breast cancers display substantial inter/intra-tumor heterogeneity. While numerous fusion genes have been identified, most are found to be subclonal, passenger alterations. To discover fusion genes which drive tumor progression and metastasis, we performed RNA-sequencing of matched primary and metastatic breast cancer samples.
RNA-sequencing was performed from sixteen patients matched primary-recurrent tumor tissue and RNA-sequencing data was successfully achieved from sixteen primary tumors and eight recurrent tumors. DeFuse program was used to identify fusion transcripts (FT).
Among the sixteen patients, six were hormone receptor positive, three were HER2 positive and seven were triple negative tumors. Three cases displayed loco-regional recurrence only and other patients had distant metastases. Overall, 516 fusion transcripts were identified. Mean numbers of fusions in primary and recurred tumors were 28 and 14.6 FTs per sample. Numbers of fusions were greater in two cases with BRCA1 pathogenic germline mutations while no significant differences were observed across subtypes. Novel inter-chromosomal fusion transcript, BCL2-ESR1, CSMD1-ESR1 and HPGDS-ESR1 were found in one hormone receptor positive patient’s metastasis and/or primary tumor. All fusions resulted in preservation of the DNA-binding domain and ligand-binding domain (exon4-10) of the ESR1 gene, with high ESR1 FPKM expression value. Fusions of ERBB2-, MALAT1- and CDK6- genes were found. Among the identified FTs, three cases harbored a previously reported recurrent fusion transcript EEF1DP3-FRY.
RNA sequencing revealed numerous fusion transcripts. Among them we found novel fusions including ESR1 fusions which need further validation and functional annotation to confirm their role in tumor progression and metastasis.
Asan Medical Center.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.