Purpose: Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a rare and aggressive histologic type of breast cancer, predominantly of triple-negative phenotype, and characterized by the presence of malignant cells showing squamous and/or mesenchymal differentiation. We sought to define the repertoire of somatic genetic alterations and the mutational signatures of MBCs.
Experimental Design: Whole-exome sequencing was performed in 35 MBCs, with 16, 10, and 9 classified as harboring chondroid, spindle, and squamous metaplasia as the predominant metaplastic component. The genomic landscape of MBCs was compared with that of triple-negative invasive ductal carcinomas of no special type (IDC-NST) from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Wnt and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway activity was assessed using a qPCR assay.
Results: MBCs harbored complex genomes with frequent TP53 (69%) mutations. In contrast to triple-negative IDC-NSTs, MBCs more frequently harbored mutations in PIK3CA (29%), PIK3R1 (11%), ARID1A (11%), FAT1 (11%), and PTEN (11%). PIK3CA mutations were not found in MBCs with chondroid metaplasia. Compared with triple-negative IDC-NSTs, MBCs significantly more frequently harbored mutations in PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway–related (57% vs. 22%) and canonical Wnt pathway–related (51% vs. 28%) genes. MBCs with somatic mutations in PI3K/AKT/mTOR or Wnt pathway–related genes displayed increased activity of the respective pathway.
Conclusions: MBCs are genetically complex and heterogeneous, and are driven by a repertoire of somatic mutations distinct from that of triple-negative IDC-NSTs. Our study highlights the genetic basis and the importance of PI3K/AKT/mTOR and Wnt pathway dysregulation in MBCs and provides a rationale for the metaplastic phenotype and the reported responses to PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors in these tumors. Clin Cancer Res; 1–12. ©2017 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received November 14, 2016.
- Revision received January 4, 2017.
- Accepted January 23, 2017.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.