Molecular analysis of metaplastic breast carcinoma: High EGFR copy number via aneusomy

Judith A. Gilbert, Matthew P. Goetz, Carol A. Reynolds, James N. Ingle, Karin F. Giordano, Vera J. Suman, Hilary E. Blair, Robert B. Jenkins, Wilma L. Lingle, Monica M. Reinholz, Alex A. Adjei, Matthew M. Ames

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Metaplastic breast carcinoma, a rare tumor composed of adenocarcinomatous and nonglandular growth patterns, is characterized by a propensity for distant metastases and resistance to standard anticancer therapies. We sought confirmation that this tumor is a basal-like breast cancer, expressing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and stem cell factor receptor (KIT). EGFR activating mutations and high copy number (associated with response to tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib) and KIT activating mutations (associated with imatinib sensitivity) were then investigated. Seventy-seven metaplastic cases were identified (1976-2006); 38 with tumor blocks available underwent pathologic confirmation before EGFR and KIT immunohistochemical analyses. A tissue microarray of malignant glandular and metaplastic elements was constructed and analyzed immunohistochemically for cytokeratin 5/6, estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and p63, and by fluorescence in situ hybridization for EGFR and HER-2/neu. DNA isolated from individual elements was assessed for EGFR and KIT activating mutations. All assessable cases were negative for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and (except one) HER2. The majority were positive for cytokeratin 5/6 (58%), p63 (59%), and EGFR overexpression (66%); 24% were KIT positive. No EGFR or KIT activating mutations were present; 26% of the primary metaplastic breast carcinomas were fluorescence in situ hybridization-positive, displaying high EGFR copy number secondary to aneusomy (22%) and amplification (4%). We report here that metaplastic breast carcinoma is a basal-like breast cancer lacking EGFR and KIT activating mutations but exhibiting high EGFR copy number (primarily via aneusomy), suggesting that EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors should be evaluated in this molecular subset of breast carcinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)944-951
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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