Enriched transcription factor signatures in triple negative breast cancer indicates possible targeted therapies with existing drugs

Scooter Willis, Pradip De, Nandini Dey, Bradley Long, Brandon Young, Joseph A. Sparano, Victoria Wang, Nancy E. Davidson, Brian R. Leyland-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Triple negative (TN) breast cancers which lack expression of the estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR), and human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) receptors convey a poor prognosis due in part to a lack of targeted therapies. Methods: To identify viable targets for the treatment of TN disease, we have conducted a gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) on seven different breast cancer whole genome gene expression cohorts comparing TN vs. ER. + HER2. - to identify consistently enriched genes that share a common promoter motif. The seven cohorts were profiled on three different genome expression platforms (Affymetrix, Illumina and RNAseq) consisting in total of 2088 samples with IHC metadata. Results: GSEA identified enriched gene expression patterns in TN samples that share common promoter motifs associated with SOX9, E2F1, HIF1A, HMGA1, MYC BACH2, CEBPB, and GCNF/NR6A1. Unexpectedly, NR6A1 an orphan nuclear receptor normally expressed in germ cells of gonads is highly expressed in TN and ER. + HER2. - samples making it an ideal drug target. Conclusion: With the increasing number of large sample size breast cancer cohorts, an exploratory analysis of genes that are consistently enriched in TN sharing common promoter motifs allows for the identification of possible therapeutic targets with extensive validation in patient derived data sets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalMeta Gene
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015



  • Breast cancer
  • ER+
  • GSEA
  • NR6A1
  • Triple negative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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