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Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 15;5:15162. doi: 10.1038/srep15162.

Distinct microbiological signatures associated with triple negative breast cancer.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, 201 E Johnson Pavilion, 3610 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Computer Science, College of Computing Sciences, New Jersey Institute of Technology, GITC 4400, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102, USA.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, 217 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Cancer Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 314 Biomedical Research Building, 421 Curie Blvd. Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Infectious agents are the third highest human cancer risk factor and may have a greater role in the origin and/or progression of cancers, and related pathogenesis. Thus, knowing the specific viruses and microbial agents associated with a cancer type may provide insights into cause, diagnosis and treatment. We utilized a pan-pathogen array technology to identify the microbial signatures associated with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). This technology detects low copy number and fragmented genomes extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin embedded archival tissues. The results, validated by PCR and sequencing, define a microbial signature present in TNBC tissue which was underrepresented in normal tissue. Hierarchical clustering analysis displayed two broad microbial signatures, one prevalent in bacteria and parasites and one prevalent in viruses. These signatures demonstrate a new paradigm in our understanding of the link between microorganisms and cancer, as causative or commensal in the tumor microenvironment and provide new diagnostic potential.

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