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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Dec;130(3):735-45. doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-1303-3. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

MicroRNA profiles of healthy basal and luminal mammary epithelial cells are distinct and reflected in different breast cancer subtypes.

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  • 1Institute for Pathology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


In order to determine the microRNA expression pattern in normal basal and luminal breast epithelium and to analyze the relationship of this expression pattern to different breast cancer subtypes, laser-microdissected luminal and basal cells isolated from plastic surgery tissue samples were used for comprehensive expression profiling, measuring 664 microRNAs by low-density TaqMan arrays. In a test (n = 5) and validation set (n = 9) 10 differentially expressed microRNAs were identified by TaqMan RT-qPCR. These microRNAs were studied in laser-microdissected cells of luminal A (n = 5), luminal B (n = 5), basal-like subtypes of breast cancer (n = 10), and malignant myoepithelioma of the breast (n = 10). From 116 microRNAs unequivocally expressed in normal breast epithelial cells, we identified 8 basal microRNAs (let7c, miR-125b, miR-126, miR-127-3p, miR-143, miR-145, miR-146b-5p, and miR-199a-3p), preferentially expressed in normal basal cells, exceeding luminal cells by a factor from 4 to 1000. All of these microRNAs were also found to be significantly elevated in malignant myoepithelioma but not in basal-type of breast cancer. Two members of the miR-200 family (miR-200c and miR-429) were predominantly luminal. Both microRNAs were expressed in the luminal and basal type of breast cancer in contrast to malignant myoepithelioma, which revealed significantly lower levels potentially contributing to its mesenchymal phenotype. In conclusion, normal luminal and basal mammary epithelial cells exhibit a different microRNA expression profile. Malignant myoepithelioma seems to exhibit a basal pattern of microRNA expression, whereas the so-called basal-like breast cancer is clearly different and reveals a luminal type pattern.

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