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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 28;8(8):e72287. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072287. eCollection 2013.

Genetic background may contribute to PAM50 gene expression breast cancer subtype assignments.

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  • 1Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.


Recent advances in genome wide transcriptional analysis have provided greater insights into the etiology and heterogeneity of breast cancer. Molecular signatures have been developed that stratify the conventional estrogen receptor positive or negative categories into subtypes that are associated with differing clinical outcomes. It is thought that the expression patterns of the molecular subtypes primarily reflect cell-of-origin or tumor driver mutations. In this study however, using a genetically engineered mouse mammary tumor model we demonstrate that the PAM50 subtype signature of tumors driven by a common oncogenic event can be significantly influenced by the genetic background on which the tumor arises. These results have important implications for interpretation of "snapshot" expression profiles, as well as suggesting that incorporation of genetic background effects may allow investigation into phenotypes not initially anticipated in individual mouse models of cancer.

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