Publications by authors named "Christine L Clarke"

81 Publications

Association of germline genetic variants with breast cancer-specific survival in patient subgroups defined by clinic-pathological variables related to tumor biology and type of systemic treatment.

Breast Cancer Res 2021 Aug 18;23(1):86. Epub 2021 Aug 18.

Department of Medicine, Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Background: Given the high heterogeneity among breast tumors, associations between common germline genetic variants and survival that may exist within specific subgroups could go undetected in an unstratified set of breast cancer patients.

Methods: We performed genome-wide association analyses within 15 subgroups of breast cancer patients based on prognostic factors, including hormone receptors, tumor grade, age, and type of systemic treatment. Analyses were based on 91,686 female patients of European ancestry from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium, including 7531 breast cancer-specific deaths over a median follow-up of 8.1 years. Cox regression was used to assess associations of common germline variants with 15-year and 5-year breast cancer-specific survival. We assessed the probability of these associations being true positives via the Bayesian false discovery probability (BFDP < 0.15).

Results: Evidence of associations with breast cancer-specific survival was observed in three patient subgroups, with variant rs5934618 in patients with grade 3 tumors (15-year-hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] 1.32 [1.20, 1.45], P = 1.4E-08, BFDP = 0.01, per G allele); variant rs4679741 in patients with ER-positive tumors treated with endocrine therapy (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.18 [1.11, 1.26], P = 1.6E-07, BFDP = 0.09, per G allele); variants rs1106333 (15-year-HR [95% CI] 1.68 [1.39,2.03], P = 5.6E-08, BFDP = 0.12, per A allele) and rs78754389 (5-year-HR [95% CI] 1.79 [1.46,2.20], P = 1.7E-08, BFDP = 0.07, per A allele), in patients with ER-negative tumors treated with chemotherapy.

Conclusions: We found evidence of four loci associated with breast cancer-specific survival within three patient subgroups. There was limited evidence for the existence of associations in other patient subgroups. However, the power for many subgroups is limited due to the low number of events. Even so, our results suggest that the impact of common germline genetic variants on breast cancer-specific survival might be limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-021-01450-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8371820PMC
August 2021

Mendelian randomisation study of smoking exposure in relation to breast cancer risk.

Br J Cancer 2021 Aug 2. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Background: Despite a modest association between tobacco smoking and breast cancer risk reported by recent epidemiological studies, it is still equivocal whether smoking is causally related to breast cancer risk.

Methods: We applied Mendelian randomisation (MR) to evaluate a potential causal effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk. Both individual-level data as well as summary statistics for 164 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) reported in genome-wide association studies of lifetime smoking index (LSI) or cigarette per day (CPD) were used to obtain MR effect estimates. Data from 108,420 invasive breast cancer cases and 87,681 controls were used for the LSI analysis and for the CPD analysis conducted among ever-smokers from 26,147 cancer cases and 26,072 controls. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to address pleiotropy.

Results: Genetically predicted LSI was associated with increased breast cancer risk (OR 1.18 per SD, 95% CI: 1.07-1.30, P = 0.11 × 10), but there was no evidence of association for genetically predicted CPD (OR 1.02, 95% CI: 0.78-1.19, P = 0.85). The sensitivity analyses yielded similar results and showed no strong evidence of pleiotropic effect.

Conclusion: Our MR study provides supportive evidence for a potential causal association with breast cancer risk for lifetime smoking exposure but not cigarettes per day among smokers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01432-8DOI Listing
August 2021

Functional annotation of the 2q35 breast cancer risk locus implicates a structural variant in influencing activity of a long-range enhancer element.

Am J Hum Genet 2021 07 18;108(7):1190-1203. Epub 2021 Jun 18.

Genomic Epidemiology Group, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg 69120, Germany.

A combination of genetic and functional approaches has identified three independent breast cancer risk loci at 2q35. A recent fine-scale mapping analysis to refine these associations resulted in 1 (signal 1), 5 (signal 2), and 42 (signal 3) credible causal variants at these loci. We used publicly available in silico DNase I and ChIP-seq data with in vitro reporter gene and CRISPR assays to annotate signals 2 and 3. We identified putative regulatory elements that enhanced cell-type-specific transcription from the IGFBP5 promoter at both signals (30- to 40-fold increased expression by the putative regulatory element at signal 2, 2- to 3-fold by the putative regulatory element at signal 3). We further identified one of the five credible causal variants at signal 2, a 1.4 kb deletion (esv3594306), as the likely causal variant; the deletion allele of this variant was associated with an average additional increase in IGFBP5 expression of 1.3-fold (MCF-7) and 2.2-fold (T-47D). We propose a model in which the deletion allele of esv3594306 juxtaposes two transcription factor binding regions (annotated by estrogen receptor alpha ChIP-seq peaks) to generate a single extended regulatory element. This regulatory element increases cell-type-specific expression of the tumor suppressor gene IGFBP5 and, thereby, reduces risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer (odds ratio = 0.77, 95% CI 0.74-0.81, p = 3.1 × 10).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.05.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8322933PMC
July 2021

Increased prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in women diagnosed with endometrial or breast cancer.

PLoS One 2021 7;16(4):e0249099. Epub 2021 Apr 7.

Ludwig Engel Centre for Respiratory Research, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia.

Background: Epidemiological studies demonstrate associations between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cancer incidence and mortality. The aim of this study was to measure OSA in women with breast (BC) or endometrial cancer (EC) and associations with clinico-pathological tumor variables.

Methods And Findings: In a cross sectional study, women with BC (12 months) or EC (3 months) post-diagnosis were recruited from cancer clinics. We collected demographic, anthropometric data, cancer stage, grade, histopathology and history of cancer treatment and all subjects had in-laboratory polysomnography. Sleepiness was assessed with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). We compared anthropometric and polysomnographic data between cancer groups (unpaired t-tests), and assessed relationships between cancer characteristics and OSA variables (Fishers exact test). There were no significant differences between average age (BC:59.6±8.7 years(n = 50); EC:60.3±7.7 years(n = 37)), or ESS score (BC:6.4±4.4; EC 6.8±4.7; mean±SD; all p>0.2), however, BMI was higher in EC (BC: 29.7±7.9kgm-2; EC: 34.2±8.0 kgm-2; p<0.05). BC had longer sleep latency (BC:31.8±32minutes; EC:19.3±17.9 minutes), less Stage 3 sleep (BC:20.0±5.2%; EC:23.6±8.2%) and more REM sleep (BC:21.1±6.9%; EC: 16.6±5.7%), all p<0.05. EC had lower average awake and asleep oxygen saturation levels (BC: 95.6±1.3%; EC: 94.6±1.9% [awake]: BC: 94.8±2.1%; EC: 93.3±2.4% [asleep]; both p<0.05). Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) (BC: 21.2(7.3-36.9) events/hr; EC: 15.7 (10-33.5) events/hour (median (interquartile range)) was not different p = 0.7), however, 58% and 57% of women with BC and EC respectively, had an AHI>15 events/hour. In this small sample size group, no significant associations (all p>0.1) were detected between OSA metrics and clinico-pathological tumor variables.

Conclusion: In postmenopausal women with breast or endometrial cancer there is high prevalence of OSA, with no association with specific tumor characteristics detected. Recognition of the high prevalence of OSA in women with cancer is important to recognise as it may impact on surgical risk and quality of life.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0249099PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8026058PMC
September 2021

A case-only study to identify genetic modifiers of breast cancer risk for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers.

Nat Commun 2021 02 17;12(1):1078. Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Copenhagen General Population Study, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark.

Breast cancer (BC) risk for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers varies by genetic and familial factors. About 50 common variants have been shown to modify BC risk for mutation carriers. All but three, were identified in general population studies. Other mutation carrier-specific susceptibility variants may exist but studies of mutation carriers have so far been underpowered. We conduct a novel case-only genome-wide association study comparing genotype frequencies between 60,212 general population BC cases and 13,007 cases with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. We identify robust novel associations for 2 variants with BC for BRCA1 and 3 for BRCA2 mutation carriers, P < 10, at 5 loci, which are not associated with risk in the general population. They include rs60882887 at 11p11.2 where MADD, SP11 and EIF1, genes previously implicated in BC biology, are predicted as potential targets. These findings will contribute towards customising BC polygenic risk scores for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20496-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7890067PMC
February 2021

Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Survival by Tumor Subtype: Pooled Analyses from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2021 04 26;30(4):623-642. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Gynaecology Research Unit, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Background: It is not known whether modifiable lifestyle factors that predict survival after invasive breast cancer differ by subtype.

Methods: We analyzed data for 121,435 women diagnosed with breast cancer from 67 studies in the Breast Cancer Association Consortium with 16,890 deaths (8,554 breast cancer specific) over 10 years. Cox regression was used to estimate associations between risk factors and 10-year all-cause mortality and breast cancer-specific mortality overall, by estrogen receptor (ER) status, and by intrinsic-like subtype.

Results: There was no evidence of heterogeneous associations between risk factors and mortality by subtype ( > 0.30). The strongest associations were between all-cause mortality and BMI ≥30 versus 18.5-25 kg/m [HR (95% confidence interval (CI), 1.19 (1.06-1.34)]; current versus never smoking [1.37 (1.27-1.47)], high versus low physical activity [0.43 (0.21-0.86)], age ≥30 years versus <20 years at first pregnancy [0.79 (0.72-0.86)]; >0-<5 years versus ≥10 years since last full-term birth [1.31 (1.11-1.55)]; ever versus never use of oral contraceptives [0.91 (0.87-0.96)]; ever versus never use of menopausal hormone therapy, including current estrogen-progestin therapy [0.61 (0.54-0.69)]. Similar associations with breast cancer mortality were weaker; for example, 1.11 (1.02-1.21) for current versus never smoking.

Conclusions: We confirm associations between modifiable lifestyle factors and 10-year all-cause mortality. There was no strong evidence that associations differed by ER status or intrinsic-like subtype.

Impact: Given the large dataset and lack of evidence that associations between modifiable risk factors and 10-year mortality differed by subtype, these associations could be cautiously used in prognostication models to inform patient-centered care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-0924DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8026532PMC
April 2021

CYP3A7*1C allele: linking premenopausal oestrone and progesterone levels with risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers.

Br J Cancer 2021 02 26;124(4):842-854. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Molecular Epidemiology Group, C080, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

Background: Epidemiological studies provide strong evidence for a role of endogenous sex hormones in the aetiology of breast cancer. The aim of this analysis was to identify genetic variants that are associated with urinary sex-hormone levels and breast cancer risk.

Methods: We carried out a genome-wide association study of urinary oestrone-3-glucuronide and pregnanediol-3-glucuronide levels in 560 premenopausal women, with additional analysis of progesterone levels in 298 premenopausal women. To test for the association with breast cancer risk, we carried out follow-up genotyping in 90,916 cases and 89,893 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. All women were of European ancestry.

Results: For pregnanediol-3-glucuronide, there were no genome-wide significant associations; for oestrone-3-glucuronide, we identified a single peak mapping to the CYP3A locus, annotated by rs45446698. The minor rs45446698-C allele was associated with lower oestrone-3-glucuronide (-49.2%, 95% CI -56.1% to -41.1%, P = 3.1 × 10); in follow-up analyses, rs45446698-C was also associated with lower progesterone (-26.7%, 95% CI -39.4% to -11.6%, P = 0.001) and reduced risk of oestrogen and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer (OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.82-0.91, P = 6.9 × 10).

Conclusions: The CYP3A7*1C allele is associated with reduced risk of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer possibly mediated via an effect on the metabolism of endogenous sex hormones in premenopausal women.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-020-01185-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884683PMC
February 2021

A tumour suppressive relationship between mineralocorticoid and retinoic acid receptors activates a transcriptional program consistent with a reverse Warburg effect in breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Res 2020 11 4;22(1):122. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Centre for Cancer Research, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, The University of Sydney, PO Box 412, Westmead, NSW, 2145, Australia.

Background: The role of nuclear receptors in both the aetiology and treatment of breast cancer is exemplified by the use of the oestrogen receptor (ER) as a prognostic marker and treatment target. Treatments targeting the oestrogen signalling pathway are initially highly effective for most patients. However, for the breast cancers that fail to respond, or become resistant, to current endocrine treatments, the long-term outlook is poor. ER is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, comprising 48 members in the human, many of which are expressed in the breast and could be used as alternative targets in cases where current treatments are ineffective.

Methods: We used sparse canonical correlation analysis to interrogate potential novel nuclear receptor expression relationships in normal breast and breast cancer. These were further explored using whole transcriptome profiling in breast cancer cells after combinations of ligand treatments.

Results: Using this approach, we discovered a tumour suppressive relationship between the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and retinoic acid receptors (RAR), in particular RARβ. Expression profiling of MR expressing breast cancer cells revealed that mineralocorticoid and retinoid co-treatment activated an expression program consistent with a reverse Warburg effect and growth inhibition, which was not observed with either ligand alone. Moreover, high expression of both MR and RARB was associated with improved breast cancer-specific survival.

Conclusion: Our study reveals a previously unknown relationship between MR and RAR in the breast, which is dependent on menopausal state and altered in malignancy. This finding identifies potential new targets for the treatment of breast cancers that are refractory to existing therapeutic options.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13058-020-01355-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641839PMC
November 2020

Breast Cancer Polygenic Risk Score and Contralateral Breast Cancer Risk.

Am J Hum Genet 2020 11 5;107(5):837-848. Epub 2020 Oct 5.

Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry, Hong Kong; Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, Department of Pathology, Happy Valley, Hong Kong.

Previous research has shown that polygenic risk scores (PRSs) can be used to stratify women according to their risk of developing primary invasive breast cancer. This study aimed to evaluate the association between a recently validated PRS of 313 germline variants (PRS) and contralateral breast cancer (CBC) risk. We included 56,068 women of European ancestry diagnosed with first invasive breast cancer from 1990 onward with follow-up from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Metachronous CBC risk (N = 1,027) according to the distribution of PRS was quantified using Cox regression analyses. We assessed PRS interaction with age at first diagnosis, family history, morphology, ER status, PR status, and HER2 status, and (neo)adjuvant therapy. In studies of Asian women, with limited follow-up, CBC risk associated with PRS was assessed using logistic regression for 340 women with CBC compared with 12,133 women with unilateral breast cancer. Higher PRS was associated with increased CBC risk: hazard ratio per standard deviation (SD) = 1.25 (95%CI = 1.18-1.33) for Europeans, and an OR per SD = 1.15 (95%CI = 1.02-1.29) for Asians. The absolute lifetime risks of CBC, accounting for death as competing risk, were 12.4% for European women at the 10 percentile and 20.5% at the 90 percentile of PRS. We found no evidence of confounding by or interaction with individual characteristics, characteristics of the primary tumor, or treatment. The C-index for the PRS alone was 0.563 (95%CI = 0.547-0.586). In conclusion, PRS is an independent factor associated with CBC risk and can be incorporated into CBC risk prediction models to help improve stratification and optimize surveillance and treatment strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2020.09.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7675034PMC
November 2020

Germline HOXB13 mutations p.G84E and p.R217C do not confer an increased breast cancer risk.

Sci Rep 2020 06 16;10(1):9688. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

In breast cancer, high levels of homeobox protein Hox-B13 (HOXB13) have been associated with disease progression of ER-positive breast cancer patients and resistance to tamoxifen treatment. Since HOXB13 p.G84E is a prostate cancer risk allele, we evaluated the association between HOXB13 germline mutations and breast cancer risk in a previous study consisting of 3,270 familial non-BRCA1/2 breast cancer cases and 2,327 controls from the Netherlands. Although both recurrent HOXB13 mutations p.G84E and p.R217C were not associated with breast cancer risk, the risk estimation for p.R217C was not very precise. To provide more conclusive evidence regarding the role of HOXB13 in breast cancer susceptibility, we here evaluated the association between HOXB13 mutations and increased breast cancer risk within 81 studies of the international Breast Cancer Association Consortium containing 68,521 invasive breast cancer patients and 54,865 controls. Both HOXB13 p.G84E and p.R217C did not associate with the development of breast cancer in European women, neither in the overall analysis (OR = 1.035, 95% CI = 0.859-1.246, P = 0.718 and OR = 0.798, 95% CI = 0.482-1.322, P = 0.381 respectively), nor in specific high-risk subgroups or breast cancer subtypes. Thus, although involved in breast cancer progression, HOXB13 is not a material breast cancer susceptibility gene.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65665-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297796PMC
June 2020

Genome-wide association study identifies 32 novel breast cancer susceptibility loci from overall and subtype-specific analyses.

Nat Genet 2020 06 18;52(6):572-581. Epub 2020 May 18.

Molecular Medicine Unit, Fundación Pública Galega de Medicina Xenómica, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Breast cancer susceptibility variants frequently show heterogeneity in associations by tumor subtype. To identify novel loci, we performed a genome-wide association study including 133,384 breast cancer cases and 113,789 controls, plus 18,908 BRCA1 mutation carriers (9,414 with breast cancer) of European ancestry, using both standard and novel methodologies that account for underlying tumor heterogeneity by estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 status and tumor grade. We identified 32 novel susceptibility loci (P < 5.0 × 10), 15 of which showed evidence for associations with at least one tumor feature (false discovery rate < 0.05). Five loci showed associations (P < 0.05) in opposite directions between luminal and non-luminal subtypes. In silico analyses showed that these five loci contained cell-specific enhancers that differed between normal luminal and basal mammary cells. The genetic correlations between five intrinsic-like subtypes ranged from 0.35 to 0.80. The proportion of genome-wide chip heritability explained by all known susceptibility loci was 54.2% for luminal A-like disease and 37.6% for triple-negative disease. The odds ratios of polygenic risk scores, which included 330 variants, for the highest 1% of quantiles compared with middle quantiles were 5.63 and 3.02 for luminal A-like and triple-negative disease, respectively. These findings provide an improved understanding of genetic predisposition to breast cancer subtypes and will inform the development of subtype-specific polygenic risk scores.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-020-0609-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7808397PMC
June 2020

Combined Associations of a Polygenic Risk Score and Classical Risk Factors With Breast Cancer Risk.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2021 03;113(3):329-337

Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.

We evaluated the joint associations between a new 313-variant PRS (PRS313) and questionnaire-based breast cancer risk factors for women of European ancestry, using 72 284 cases and 80 354 controls from the Breast Cancer Association Consortium. Interactions were evaluated using standard logistic regression and a newly developed case-only method for breast cancer risk overall and by estrogen receptor status. After accounting for multiple testing, we did not find evidence that per-standard deviation PRS313 odds ratio differed across strata defined by individual risk factors. Goodness-of-fit tests did not reject the assumption of a multiplicative model between PRS313 and each risk factor. Variation in projected absolute lifetime risk of breast cancer associated with classical risk factors was greater for women with higher genetic risk (PRS313 and family history) and, on average, 17.5% higher in the highest vs lowest deciles of genetic risk. These findings have implications for risk prevention for women at increased risk of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djaa056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7936056PMC
March 2021

Transcriptome-wide association study of breast cancer risk by estrogen-receptor status.

Genet Epidemiol 2020 07 1;44(5):442-468. Epub 2020 Mar 1.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Previous transcriptome-wide association studies (TWAS) have identified breast cancer risk genes by integrating data from expression quantitative loci and genome-wide association studies (GWAS), but analyses of breast cancer subtype-specific associations have been limited. In this study, we conducted a TWAS using gene expression data from GTEx and summary statistics from the hitherto largest GWAS meta-analysis conducted for breast cancer overall, and by estrogen receptor subtypes (ER+ and ER-). We further compared associations with ER+ and ER- subtypes, using a case-only TWAS approach. We also conducted multigene conditional analyses in regions with multiple TWAS associations. Two genes, STXBP4 and HIST2H2BA, were specifically associated with ER+ but not with ER- breast cancer. We further identified 30 TWAS-significant genes associated with overall breast cancer risk, including four that were not identified in previous studies. Conditional analyses identified single independent breast-cancer gene in three of six regions harboring multiple TWAS-significant genes. Our study provides new information on breast cancer genetics and biology, particularly about genomic differences between ER+ and ER- breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gepi.22288DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987299PMC
July 2020

A network analysis to identify mediators of germline-driven differences in breast cancer prognosis.

Nat Commun 2020 01 16;11(1):312. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.

Identifying the underlying genetic drivers of the heritability of breast cancer prognosis remains elusive. We adapt a network-based approach to handle underpowered complex datasets to provide new insights into the potential function of germline variants in breast cancer prognosis. This network-based analysis studies ~7.3 million variants in 84,457 breast cancer patients in relation to breast cancer survival and confirms the results on 12,381 independent patients. Aggregating the prognostic effects of genetic variants across multiple genes, we identify four gene modules associated with survival in estrogen receptor (ER)-negative and one in ER-positive disease. The modules show biological enrichment for cancer-related processes such as G-alpha signaling, circadian clock, angiogenesis, and Rho-GTPases in apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14100-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6965101PMC
January 2020

Fine-mapping of 150 breast cancer risk regions identifies 191 likely target genes.

Nat Genet 2020 01 7;52(1):56-73. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Unit of Medical Genetics, Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano, Milan, Italy.

Genome-wide association studies have identified breast cancer risk variants in over 150 genomic regions, but the mechanisms underlying risk remain largely unknown. These regions were explored by combining association analysis with in silico genomic feature annotations. We defined 205 independent risk-associated signals with the set of credible causal variants in each one. In parallel, we used a Bayesian approach (PAINTOR) that combines genetic association, linkage disequilibrium and enriched genomic features to determine variants with high posterior probabilities of being causal. Potentially causal variants were significantly over-represented in active gene regulatory regions and transcription factor binding sites. We applied our INQUSIT pipeline for prioritizing genes as targets of those potentially causal variants, using gene expression (expression quantitative trait loci), chromatin interaction and functional annotations. Known cancer drivers, transcription factors and genes in the developmental, apoptosis, immune system and DNA integrity checkpoint gene ontology pathways were over-represented among the highest-confidence target genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0537-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6974400PMC
January 2020

The :p.Arg658* truncating variant is associated with risk of triple-negative breast cancer.

NPJ Breast Cancer 2019 1;5:38. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

25University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Department of Breast Medical Oncology, Houston, TX USA.

Breast cancer is a common disease partially caused by genetic risk factors. Germline pathogenic variants in DNA repair genes , , , , and are associated with breast cancer risk. , which encodes for a DNA translocase, has been proposed as a breast cancer predisposition gene, with greater effects for the ER-negative and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes. We tested the three recurrent protein-truncating variants :p.Arg658*, p.Gln1701*, and p.Arg1931* for association with breast cancer risk in 67,112 cases, 53,766 controls, and 26,662 carriers of pathogenic variants of or . These three variants were also studied functionally by measuring survival and chromosome fragility in patient-derived immortalized fibroblasts treated with diepoxybutane or olaparib. We observed that :p.Arg658* was associated with increased risk of ER-negative disease and TNBC (OR = 2.44,  = 0.034 and OR = 3.79;  = 0.009, respectively). In a country-restricted analysis, we confirmed the associations detected for :p.Arg658* and found that also :p.Arg1931* was associated with ER-negative breast cancer risk (OR = 1.96;  = 0.006). The functional results indicated that all three variants were deleterious affecting cell survival and chromosome stability with :p.Arg658* causing more severe phenotypes. In conclusion, we confirmed that the two rare deleterious variants p.Arg658* and p.Arg1931* are risk factors for ER-negative and TNBC subtypes. Overall our data suggest that the effect of truncating variants on breast cancer risk may depend on their position in the gene. Cell sensitivity to olaparib exposure, identifies a possible therapeutic option to treat -associated tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41523-019-0127-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6825205PMC
November 2019

Two truncating variants in FANCC and breast cancer risk.

Sci Rep 2019 08 29;9(1):12524. Epub 2019 Aug 29.

Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Fanconi anemia (FA) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder with 22 disease-causing genes reported to date. In some FA genes, monoallelic mutations have been found to be associated with breast cancer risk, while the risk associations of others remain unknown. The gene for FA type C, FANCC, has been proposed as a breast cancer susceptibility gene based on epidemiological and sequencing studies. We used the Oncoarray project to genotype two truncating FANCC variants (p.R185X and p.R548X) in 64,760 breast cancer cases and 49,793 controls of European descent. FANCC mutations were observed in 25 cases (14 with p.R185X, 11 with p.R548X) and 26 controls (18 with p.R185X, 8 with p.R548X). There was no evidence of an association with the risk of breast cancer, neither overall (odds ratio 0.77, 95%CI 0.44-1.33, p = 0.4) nor by histology, hormone receptor status, age or family history. We conclude that the breast cancer risk association of these two FANCC variants, if any, is much smaller than for BRCA1, BRCA2 or PALB2 mutations. If this applies to all truncating variants in FANCC it would suggest there are differences between FA genes in their roles on breast cancer risk and demonstrates the merit of large consortia for clarifying risk associations of rare variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48804-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6715680PMC
August 2019

Toward a Synergistic Operating Model for Westmead Research Hub Biobanks: A Questionnaire Study.

Biopreserv Biobank 2019 Dec 20;17(6):570-576. Epub 2019 Aug 20.

Scientific Platforms, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Standardization and sustainability are ideals within the biobanking world, and the demand for high-quality well-annotated specimens is growing just as rapidly as the ever-increasing precision and throughput of today's high-tech scientific methods. In the state of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, the state government has allocated significant funding toward this requirement in recent years, with the launch of the NSW Health Statewide Biobank in central Sydney in 2017, and the introduction of the voluntary NSW Biobank Certification Program, and Consent Toolkit. For new and established biobanks, the influence of these new resources has been twofold: first they have provided valuable guidance for moving toward standardized practices and raising the bar for biobanking quality standards; second, they have brought to the forefront the challenges of sustainability and transitioning to a certification standard of biobanking. In Westmead, ∼20 km from Sydney's central business district, the Westmead Research Hub has responded to these challenges with a collaborative biobanking project initiated in 2015. As the site of almost 30 individual biobanks, and to inform a pilot project of central biobank services, a questionnaire was developed and administered to all of the biobanks. This article reports on the results from the questionnaire and the rationale for subsequent initiation of a core biobanking facility.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/bio.2019.0010DOI Listing
December 2019

Genome-wide association and transcriptome studies identify target genes and risk loci for breast cancer.

Nat Commun 2019 04 15;10(1):1741. Epub 2019 Apr 15.

Molecular Oncology Laboratory, CIBERONC, Hospital Clinico San Carlos, IdISSC (Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Clínico San Carlos), 28040, Madrid, Spain.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified more than 170 breast cancer susceptibility loci. Here we hypothesize that some risk-associated variants might act in non-breast tissues, specifically adipose tissue and immune cells from blood and spleen. Using expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) reported in these tissues, we identify 26 previously unreported, likely target genes of overall breast cancer risk variants, and 17 for estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer, several with a known immune function. We determine the directional effect of gene expression on disease risk measured based on single and multiple eQTL. In addition, using a gene-based test of association that considers eQTL from multiple tissues, we identify seven (and four) regions with variants associated with overall (and ER-negative) breast cancer risk, which were not reported in previous GWAS. Further investigation of the function of the implicated genes in breast and immune cells may provide insights into the etiology of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-08053-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465407PMC
April 2019

Novel RU486 (mifepristone) analogues with increased activity against Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus but reduced progesterone receptor antagonistic activity.

Sci Rep 2019 02 22;9(1):2634. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Nuclear Signaling Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

There are currently no therapeutics to treat infection with the alphavirus Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), which causes flu-like symptoms leading to neurological symptoms in up to 14% of cases. Large outbreaks of VEEV can result in 10,000 s of human cases and mass equine death. We previously showed that mifepristone (RU486) has anti-VEEV activity (EC = 20 μM) and only limited cytotoxicity (CC > 100 μM), but a limitation in its use is its abortifacient activity resulting from its ability to antagonize the progesterone receptor (PR). Here we generate a suite of new mifepristone analogues with enhanced antiviral properties, succeeding in achieving >11-fold improvement in anti-VEEV activity with no detectable increase in toxicity. Importantly, we were able to derive a lead compound with an EC of 7.2 µM and no detectable PR antagonism activity. Finally, based on our SAR analysis we propose avenues for the further development of these analogues as safe and effective anti-VEEV agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-38671-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6385310PMC
February 2019

Genome-wide association study of germline variants and breast cancer-specific mortality.

Br J Cancer 2019 03 21;120(6):647-657. Epub 2019 Feb 21.

Lund University, Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Clinical Sciences, Lund, Sweden.

Background: We examined the associations between germline variants and breast cancer mortality using a large meta-analysis of women of European ancestry.

Methods: Meta-analyses included summary estimates based on Cox models of twelve datasets using ~10.4 million variants for 96,661 women with breast cancer and 7697 events (breast cancer-specific deaths). Oestrogen receptor (ER)-specific analyses were based on 64,171 ER-positive (4116) and 16,172 ER-negative (2125) patients. We evaluated the probability of a signal to be a true positive using the Bayesian false discovery probability (BFDP).

Results: We did not find any variant associated with breast cancer-specific mortality at P < 5 × 10. For ER-positive disease, the most significantly associated variant was chr7:rs4717568 (BFDP = 7%, P = 1.28 × 10, hazard ratio [HR] = 0.88, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.84-0.92); the closest gene is AUTS2. For ER-negative disease, the most significant variant was chr7:rs67918676 (BFDP = 11%, P = 1.38 × 10, HR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.16-1.39); located within a long intergenic non-coding RNA gene (AC004009.3), close to the HOXA gene cluster.

Conclusions: We uncovered germline variants on chromosome 7 at BFDP < 15% close to genes for which there is biological evidence related to breast cancer outcome. However, the paucity of variants associated with mortality at genome-wide significance underpins the challenge in providing genetic-based individualised prognostic information for breast cancer patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41416-019-0393-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6461853PMC
March 2019

Polygenic Risk Scores for Prediction of Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Subtypes.

Am J Hum Genet 2019 01 13;104(1):21-34. Epub 2018 Dec 13.

Department of Oncology, Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki 00290, Finland; Department of Oncology, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro 70185, Sweden.

Stratification of women according to their risk of breast cancer based on polygenic risk scores (PRSs) could improve screening and prevention strategies. Our aim was to develop PRSs, optimized for prediction of estrogen receptor (ER)-specific disease, from the largest available genome-wide association dataset and to empirically validate the PRSs in prospective studies. The development dataset comprised 94,075 case subjects and 75,017 control subjects of European ancestry from 69 studies, divided into training and validation sets. Samples were genotyped using genome-wide arrays, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were selected by stepwise regression or lasso penalized regression. The best performing PRSs were validated in an independent test set comprising 11,428 case subjects and 18,323 control subjects from 10 prospective studies and 190,040 women from UK Biobank (3,215 incident breast cancers). For the best PRSs (313 SNPs), the odds ratio for overall disease per 1 standard deviation in ten prospective studies was 1.61 (95%CI: 1.57-1.65) with area under receiver-operator curve (AUC) = 0.630 (95%CI: 0.628-0.651). The lifetime risk of overall breast cancer in the top centile of the PRSs was 32.6%. Compared with women in the middle quintile, those in the highest 1% of risk had 4.37- and 2.78-fold risks, and those in the lowest 1% of risk had 0.16- and 0.27-fold risks, of developing ER-positive and ER-negative disease, respectively. Goodness-of-fit tests indicated that this PRS was well calibrated and predicts disease risk accurately in the tails of the distribution. This PRS is a powerful and reliable predictor of breast cancer risk that may improve breast cancer prevention programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.11.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323553PMC
January 2019

Identification of nine new susceptibility loci for endometrial cancer.

Nat Commun 2018 08 9;9(1):3166. Epub 2018 Aug 9.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals KU Leuven, University of Leuven, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Leuven, 3000, Belgium.

Endometrial cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer of the female reproductive tract in developed countries. Through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), we have previously identified eight risk loci for endometrial cancer. Here, we present an expanded meta-analysis of 12,906 endometrial cancer cases and 108,979 controls (including new genotype data for 5624 cases) and identify nine novel genome-wide significant loci, including a locus on 12q24.12 previously identified by meta-GWAS of endometrial and colorectal cancer. At five loci, expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analyses identify candidate causal genes; risk alleles at two of these loci associate with decreased expression of genes, which encode negative regulators of oncogenic signal transduction proteins (SH2B3 (12q24.12) and NF1 (17q11.2)). In summary, this study has doubled the number of known endometrial cancer risk loci and revealed candidate causal genes for future study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05427-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6085317PMC
August 2018

A transcriptome-wide association study of 229,000 women identifies new candidate susceptibility genes for breast cancer.

Nat Genet 2018 07 18;50(7):968-978. Epub 2018 Jun 18.

Department of Oncology, Helsinki University Hospital, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

The breast cancer risk variants identified in genome-wide association studies explain only a small fraction of the familial relative risk, and the genes responsible for these associations remain largely unknown. To identify novel risk loci and likely causal genes, we performed a transcriptome-wide association study evaluating associations of genetically predicted gene expression with breast cancer risk in 122,977 cases and 105,974 controls of European ancestry. We used data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project to establish genetic models to predict gene expression in breast tissue and evaluated model performance using data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Of the 8,597 genes evaluated, significant associations were identified for 48 at a Bonferroni-corrected threshold of P < 5.82 × 10, including 14 genes at loci not yet reported for breast cancer. We silenced 13 genes and showed an effect for 11 on cell proliferation and/or colony-forming efficiency. Our study provides new insights into breast cancer genetics and biology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-018-0132-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314198PMC
July 2018

Profiling differential microRNA expression between in situ, infiltrative and lympho-vascular space invasive breast cancer: a pilot study.

Clin Exp Metastasis 2018 02 6;35(1-2):3-13. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Translational Oncology, Sydney West Cancer Network, The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW, 2145, Australia.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), invasive breast cancer (IBC) and lympho-vascular invasion (LVI) represent distinct stages in breast cancer progression with different clinical implications. Altered microRNA (miRNA) expression may play a role in mediating the progression of DCIS to IBC and LVI. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate whether differential miRNA expression could play a role in breast cancer progression. Cancer cells from DCIS, IBC and LVI were microdissected from formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue of five breast cancer samples. MiRNA profiling of extracted RNA was performed using the TaqMan Array Human MicroRNA Cards A and B v3.0. Candidate miRNAs and gene targets were validated by qPCR. 3D culture of MCF10A, MCF10DCIS.com and T47D cells were used as models for normal, DCIS and IBC. Immunohistochemistry of candidate genes was performed on FFPE 3D cell cultures as well as on tissue microarray which included cores of DCIS and IBC samples. MiR-150, miR-126 and miR-155 were found to be more highly expressed in IBC and LVI compared to DCIS. Gene targets of these miRNAs, RhoA, PEG10 and MYB, were found to be more highly expressed in DCIS compared to IBC by qPCR and in MCF10A and MCF10DCIS.com cells compared to T47D cells by immunohistochemistry. There was no difference in intensity of staining of RhoA by immunohistochemistry in DCIS versus IBC samples on tissue microarray. In this pilot study, we found evidence to support a potential role for variation in miRNA levels in the transition from DCIS to IBC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10585-017-9868-4DOI Listing
February 2018

Association analysis identifies 65 new breast cancer risk loci.

Nature 2017 11 23;551(7678):92-94. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Department of Clinical Genetics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Breast cancer risk is influenced by rare coding variants in susceptibility genes, such as BRCA1, and many common, mostly non-coding variants. However, much of the genetic contribution to breast cancer risk remains unknown. Here we report the results of a genome-wide association study of breast cancer in 122,977 cases and 105,974 controls of European ancestry and 14,068 cases and 13,104 controls of East Asian ancestry. We identified 65 new loci that are associated with overall breast cancer risk at P < 5 × 10. The majority of credible risk single-nucleotide polymorphisms in these loci fall in distal regulatory elements, and by integrating in silico data to predict target genes in breast cells at each locus, we demonstrate a strong overlap between candidate target genes and somatic driver genes in breast tumours. We also find that heritability of breast cancer due to all single-nucleotide polymorphisms in regulatory features was 2-5-fold enriched relative to the genome-wide average, with strong enrichment for particular transcription factor binding sites. These results provide further insight into genetic susceptibility to breast cancer and will improve the use of genetic risk scores for individualized screening and prevention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature24284DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5798588PMC
November 2017

Identification of ten variants associated with risk of estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer.

Nat Genet 2017 Dec 23;49(12):1767-1778. Epub 2017 Oct 23.

Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, USA.

Most common breast cancer susceptibility variants have been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of predominantly estrogen receptor (ER)-positive disease. We conducted a GWAS using 21,468 ER-negative cases and 100,594 controls combined with 18,908 BRCA1 mutation carriers (9,414 with breast cancer), all of European origin. We identified independent associations at P < 5 × 10 with ten variants at nine new loci. At P < 0.05, we replicated associations with 10 of 11 variants previously reported in ER-negative disease or BRCA1 mutation carrier GWAS and observed consistent associations with ER-negative disease for 105 susceptibility variants identified by other studies. These 125 variants explain approximately 16% of the familial risk of this breast cancer subtype. There was high genetic correlation (0.72) between risk of ER-negative breast cancer and breast cancer risk for BRCA1 mutation carriers. These findings may lead to improved risk prediction and inform further fine-mapping and functional work to better understand the biological basis of ER-negative breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3785DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808456PMC
December 2017

Estrogen and progesterone signalling in the normal breast and its implications for cancer development.

Mol Cell Endocrinol 2018 05 26;466:2-14. Epub 2017 Aug 26.

Centre for Cancer Research, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney Medical School - Westmead, The University of Sydney, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. Electronic address:

The ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone are master regulators of the development and function of a broad spectrum of human tissues, including the breast, reproductive and cardiovascular systems, brain and bone. Acting through the nuclear estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR), both play complex and essential coordinated roles in the extensive development of the lobular alveolar epithelial structures of the normal breast during puberty, the normal menstrual cycle and pregnancy. The past decade has seen major advances in understanding the mechanisms of action of estrogen and progesterone in the normal breast and in the delineation of the complex hierarchy of cell types regulated by ovarian hormones in this tissue. There is evidence for a role for both ER and PR in driving breast cancer, and both are favourable prognostic markers with respect to outcome. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of the mechanisms of action of ER and PR in the normal breast, and implications for the development and management of breast cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mce.2017.08.011DOI Listing
May 2018

Emerging functional roles of nuclear receptors in breast cancer.

J Mol Endocrinol 2017 04 13;58(3):R169-R190. Epub 2017 Jan 13.

Westmead Institute for Medical ResearchSydney Medical School - Westmead, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Nuclear receptors (NRs) have been targets of intensive drug development for decades due to their roles as key regulators of multiple developmental, physiological and disease processes. In breast cancer, expression of the estrogen and progesterone receptor remains clinically important in predicting prognosis and determining therapeutic strategies. More recently, there is growing evidence supporting the involvement of multiple nuclear receptors other than the estrogen and progesterone receptors, in the regulation of various processes important to the initiation and progression of breast cancer. We review new insights into the mechanisms of action of NRs made possible by recent advances in genomic technologies and focus on the emerging functional roles of NRs in breast cancer biology, including their involvement in circadian regulation, metabolic reprogramming and breast cancer migration and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/JME-16-0082DOI Listing
April 2017
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