Background Gene amplification is the primary mechanism of HER-2/neu overexpression in breast cancer and is a strong predictor of prognosis. Currently screening for HER-2/neu gene amplification in breast cancer is done by fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH), which is accurate but costly and labor intensive. We have evaluated a new PCR (polymerase chain reaction)-based assay for the detection of HER-2/neu gene amplification in human breast cancer. Study design A total of 15 breast cancer cell lines and 14 breast cancer specimens were evaluated. HER-2/neu status of the tumors was evaluated by FISH and then assessed using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction/ligase detection reaction (PCR/LRD) technique. Results Amplification of the HER-2/neu gene was detected in seven cell lines previously reported to have amplification and no amplification was found in any of the six that had been reported not to have amplification. In the assessment of breast specimens the PCR/LDR and FISH assays were in complete agreement. All 10 tumors with amplification by FISH were also amplified by PCR/LDR. Conclusions The PCR/LDR technique successfully detects HER-2/neu gene amplification in clinical breast cancer specimens and shows 100% concordance with FISH. This technique is an accurate and rapid alternative to FISH with the potential for automation and high throughput analysis of HER-2/neu status in breast cancer.
- FISH = fluorescent in situ hybridization
- LDR = ligase detection reaction
- PCR = polymerase chain reaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas