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Trends Mol Med. 2006 Nov;12(11):537-44. Epub 2006 Sep 29.

Deconstructing the molecular portrait of basal-like breast cancer.

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  • 1Cell Death Regulation Laboratory, Departments of Medicine and Cell and Molecular Biology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Gene-expression profiling has revealed several molecular subtypes of breast cancer, which differ in their pathobiology and clinical outcomes. Basal-like tumors are a newly recognized subtype of breast cancer, which express genes that are characteristic of basal epithelial cells, such as the basal cytokeratins, and are associated with poor relapse-free and overall survival. However, the genetic and epigenetic alterations that are responsible for the biologically aggressive phenotype of these estrogen receptor-negative and HER2/ErbB2-negative tumors are not well understood, thereby hindering efforts to develop targeted therapies. Here, we focus on new insights into the molecular pathogenesis of basal-like breast cancer and explore how these discoveries might impact the treatment of these poor-prognosis tumors.

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