Expressed Gene Fusions as Frequent Drivers of Poor Outcomes in Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer

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Matissek K. J. , Onozato M. L. , Sun S., Zheng Z., Schultz A., Lee J., ...More

CANCER DISCOVERY, vol.8, no.3, pp.336-353, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1158/
  • Title of Journal : CANCER DISCOVERY
  • Page Numbers: pp.336-353


We sought to uncover genetic drivers of hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer, using a targeted next-generation sequencing approach for detecting expressed gene rearrangements without prior knowledge of the fusion partners. We identified intergenic fusions involving driver genes, including PIK3CA, AKT3, RAF1, and ESR1, in 14% (24/173) of unselected patients with advanced HR+ breast cancer. FISH confirmed the corresponding chromosomal rearrangements in both primary and metastatic tumors. Expression of novel kinase fusions in nontransformed cells deregulates phosphoprotein signaling, cell proliferation, and survival in three-dimensional culture, whereas expression in HR+ breast cancer models modulates estrogen-dependent growth and confers hormonal therapy resistance in vitro and in vivo. Strikingly, shorter overall survival was observed in patients with rearrangement-positive versus rearrangement-negative tumors. Correspondingly, fusions were uncommon (< 5%) among 300 patients presenting with primary HR+ breast cancer. Collectively, our findings identify expressed gene fusions as frequent and potentially actionable drivers in HR+ breast cancer.