High BRCA1 gene expression increases the risk of early distant metastasis in ER+ breast cancers

Hui Ju Chang, Ueng Cheng Yang*, Mei Yu Lai, Chen Hsin Chen, Yang Cheng Fann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although the function of the BRCA1 gene has been extensively studied, the relationship between BRCA1 gene expression and tumor aggressiveness remains controversial in sporadic breast cancers. Because the BRCA1 protein is known to regulate estrogen signaling, we selected microarray data of ER+ breast cancers from the GEO public repository to resolve previous conflicting findings. The BRCA1 gene expression level in highly proliferative luminal B tumors was shown to be higher than that in luminal A tumors. Survival analysis using a cure model indicated that patients of early ER+ breast cancers with high BRCA1 expression developed rapid distant metastasis. In addition, the proliferation marker genes MKI67 and PCNA, which are characteristic of aggressive tumors, were also highly expressed in patients with high BRCA1 expression. The associations among high BRCA1 expression, high proliferation marker expression, and high risk of distant metastasis emerged in independent datasets, regardless of tamoxifen treatment. Tamoxifen therapy could improve the metastasis-free fraction of high BRCA1 expression patients. Our findings link BRCA1 expression with proliferation and possibly distant metastasis via the ER signaling pathway. We propose a testable hypothesis based on these consistent results and offer an interpretation for our reported associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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