Identification and validation of a new set of five genes for prediction of risk in early breast cancer

Giorgio Mustacchi, Maria Pia Sormani, Paolo Bruzzi, Alessandra Gennari, Fabrizio Zanconati, Daniela Bonifacio, Adriana Monzoni, Luca Morandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Molecular tests predicting the outcome of breast cancer patients based on gene expression levels can be used to assist in making treatment decisions after consideration of conventional markers. In this study we identified a subset of 20 mRNA differentially regulated in breast cancer analyzing several publicly available array gene expression data using R/Bioconductor package. Using RTqPCR we evaluate 261 consecutive invasive breast cancer cases not selected for age, adjuvant treatment, nodal and estrogen receptor status from paraffin embedded sections. The biological samples dataset was split into a training (137 cases) and a validation set (124 cases). The gene signature was developed on the training set and a multivariate stepwise Cox analysis selected five genes independently associated with DFS: FGF18 (HR = 1.13, p = 0.05), BCL2 (HR = 0.57, p = 0.001), PRC1 (HR = 1.51, p = 0.001), MMP9 (HR = 1.11, p = 0.08), SERF1a (HR = 0.83, p = 0.007). These five genes were combined into a linear score (signature) weighted according to the coefficients of the Cox model, as: 0.125FGF18 - 0.560BCL2 + 0.409PRC1 + 0.104MMP9 - 0.188SERF1A (HR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.9-4.0, p <0.001). The signature was then evaluated on the validation set assessing the discrimination ability by a Kaplan Meier analysis, using the same cut offs classifying patients at low, intermediate or high risk of disease relapse as defined on the training set (p <0.001). Our signature, after a further clinical validation, could be proposed as prognostic signature for disease free survival in breast cancer patients where the indication for adjuvant chemotherapy added to endocrine treatment is uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9686-9702
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Algorithm
  • Breast cancer signature
  • FFPE
  • Prognostic assay
  • RTqPCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Molecular Biology
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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