Prognostic B-cell signatures using mRNA-seq in patients with subtype-specific breast and ovarian cancer

Michael D. Iglesia, Benjamin G. Vincent, Joel S. Parker, Katherine A. Hoadley, Lisa A. Carey, Charles M. Perou, Jonathan S. Serody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Purpose: Lymphocytic infiltration of tumors predicts improved survival in patients with breast cancer. Previous studies have suggested that this survival benefit is confined predominantly to the basal-like subtype. Immune infiltration in ovarian tumors is also associated with improved prognosis. Currently, it is unclear what aspects of the immune response mediate this improved outcome. Experimental Design: Using The Cancer Genome Atlas mRNA-seq data and a large microarray dataset, we evaluated adaptive immune gene expression by genomic subtype in breast and ovarian cancer. To investigate B-cells observed to be prognostic within specific subtypes, we developed methods to analyze B-cell population diversity and degree of somatic hypermutation (SHM) from B-cell receptor (BCR) sequences in mRNA-seq data. Results: Improved metastasis-free/progression-free survival was correlated with B-cell gene expression signatures, which were restricted mainly to the basal-like and HER2-enriched breast cancer subtypes and the immunoreactive ovarian cancer subtype. Consistent with a restricted epitope-driven response, a subset of basal-like and HER2-enriched breast tumors and immunoreactive ovarian tumors showed high expression of a low-diversity population of BCR gene segments. More BCR segments showed improved prognosis with increased expression in basal-like breast tumors and immunoreactive ovarian tumors compared with other subtypes. Basal-like and HER2-enriched tumors exhibited more BCR sequence variants in regions consistent with SHM. Conclusion: Taken together, these data suggest the presence of a productive and potentially restricted antitumor B-cell response in basal-like breast and immunoreactive ovarian cancers. Immunomodulatory therapies that support B-cell responses may be a promising therapeutic approach to targeting these B-cell infiltrated tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3818-3829
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014


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