Reparameterization of PAM50 expression identifies novel breast tumor dimensions and leads to discovery of a breast cancer susceptibility locus at 12q15

Michael J. Madsen, Stacey Knight, Carol Sweeney, Rachel Factor, Mohamed Salama, Venkatesh Rajamanickam, Bryan E. Welm, Sasi Arunachalam, Brandt Jones, Kerry Rowe, Melissa Cessna, Alun Thomas, Lawrence H. Kushi, Bette J. Caan, Philip S. Bernard, Nicola J. Camp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well-known that breast tumors exhibit different expression patterns that can be used to assign intrinsic subtypes – the PAM50 assay, for example, categorizes tumors into: Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2-enriched and Basal-like – yet tumors are often more complex than categorization can describe. We used 911 sporadic breast tumors to reparameterize expression from the PAM50 genes to five orthogonal tumor dimensions using principal components (PC). Three dimensions captured intrinsic subtype, two dimensions were novel, and all replicated in 945 TCGA tumors. By definition dimensions are independent, an important attribute for inclusion in downstream studies exploring effects of tumor diversity. One application where tumor subtyping has failed to provide impact is susceptibility genetics. Germline genetic heterogeneity reduces power for gene-finding. The identification of heritable tumor characteristics has potential to increase homogeneity. We compared 238 breast tumors from high-risk pedigrees not attributable to BRCA1 or BRCA2 to 911 sporadic breast tumors. Two PC dimensions were significantly enriched in the pedigrees (intrinsic subtypes were not). We performed proof-of-concept gene-mapping in one enriched pedigree and identified a 0.5 Mb genomewide significant region at 12q15 that segregated to the 8 breast cancer cases with the most extreme PC tumors through 32 meioses (p=2.6×10-8). In conclusion, our study: suggests a new approach to describe tumor diversity; supports the hypothesis that tumor characteristics are heritable providing new avenues for germline studies; and proposes a new breast cancer locus. Reparameterization of expression patterns may similarly inform other studies attempting to model the effects of tumor heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 9 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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