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Virchows Arch. 1997 May;430(5):365-72.

Amplification units and translocation at chromosome 17q and c-erbB-2 overexpression in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.

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N. Goormaghtigh Institute for Pathology, University Hospital Gent, Belgium.


Hyperplasia without and with atypia is considered to be a precursor lesion for certain breast carcinomas. The cytogenetic events and the molecular pathology involved in the multistep process from normal to invasive carcinoma are unknown. To characterise the sequence of early genetic abnormalities of chromosome 17q and their biological consequences in the pathogenesis of breast cancer, we performed immunohistochemistry on 451 breast tissues including 180 normal breast specimens, 28 hyperplastic lesions without atypia and 44 with atypia, 100 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and 99 cases of invasive ductal carcinoma. We correlated the overexpression of the c-ErbB-2 protein, the histological and the recently proposed differentiation classification of DCIS with the extent of DCIS. For fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) analysis, different probes spanning the 17q region including the c-erbB-2 gene locus and those which are found adjacent, were used. Reverse painting and comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) were performed on several breast cancer cell lines. c-ErbB-2 overexpression was observed in only 29% of DCIS and 23% of invasive carcinomas, but not in hyperplastic and normal tissue. c-ErbB-2 overexpression is correlated with poor differentiation in DCIS but not in invasive carcinoma. In DCIS, there was no correlation with the histological subtype classification. The average extent of DCIS is significantly increased from 13.81 mm in c-ErbB-2 negative cases to 29.37 mm in c-ErbB-2 positive cases. The increase was considered to be a possible consequence of the overexpression and is probably due to the previously described motility enhancing effect of the c-ErbB-2 protein. The histological and differentiation classification of DCIS did not correlate with the extent of disease. Using FISH, amplified genes at 17q12, always including the c-erbB-2 gene, were detected in all cases of DCIS and invasive carcinoma with c-ErbB-2 overexpression. The centromeric region and the NF1 locus, which is located between the centromere and c-erbB-2, were not amplified in any of the DCIS and invasive breast carcinomas, but co-amplification of the myeloperoxidase gene was detected in 3/5 DCIS and 1/5 invasive carcinomas with c-ErbB-2 overexpression. In contrast to c-erbB-2, immunohistochemical overexpression of their respective gene products was not observed. FISH, reverse painting and CGH show similar amplified genes with amplified c-erbB-2 in c-ErbB-2 overexpressing SK-BR-3 and BT474 human breast cancer cells. The amplified genes are part of two different amplicons. Extensive modifications of the 17q chromosomal region, caused by translocation, were also observed in these cell lines. It is concluded that the modifications of chromosome 17q, inducing overexpression of c-ErbB-2 protein, occur at the level of transition from hyperplasia to DCIS. They are preserved in invasive carcinoma with overexpression of c-ErbB-2 protein. This had led to the hypothesis that these modifications at 17q may lead to a larger extent of DCIS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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