Purpose: Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are associated with a worse prognosis and patients with TNBC have fewer therapeutic options than patients with non-TNBC. Recently, the IRE1alpha-XBP1 branch of the unfolded protein response (UPR) was implicated in TNBC prognosis on the basis of a relatively small patient population, suggesting the diagnostic and therapeutic value of this pathway in TNBCs. In addition, the IRE1alpha-XBP1 and hypoxia-induced factor 1 alpha (HIF1alpha) pathways have been identified as interacting partners in TNBC, suggesting a novel mechanism of regulation. To comprehensively evaluate and validate these findings, we investigated the relative activities and relevance to patient survival of the UPR and HIF1alpha pathways in different breast cancer subtypes in large populations of patients.Materials and Methods: We performed a comprehensive analysis of gene expression and survival data from large cohorts of patients with breast cancer. The patients were stratified based on the average expression of the UPR or HIF1alpha gene signatures.Results: We identified a strong positive association between the XBP1 gene signature and estrogen receptor-positive status or the HIF1alpha gene signature, as well as the predictive value of the XBP1 gene signature for survival of patients who are estrogen receptor negative, or have TNBC or HER2+. In contrast, another important UPR branch, the ATF4/CHOP pathway, lacks prognostic value in breast cancer in general. Activity of the HIF1alpha pathway is correlated with patient survival in all the subtypes evaluated.Conclusion: These findings clarify the relevance of the UPR pathways in different breast cancer subtypes and underscore the potential therapeutic importance of the IRE1alpha-XBP1 branch in breast cancer treatment.
View details for PubMedID 29888341