MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key players in cancer pathogenesis1. They display differential expression across breast cancer subtypes, and play oncogenic... Show More
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key players in cancer pathogenesis1. They display differential expression across breast cancer subtypes, and play oncogenic and tumor-suppressive roles2-6. A systematic study of the global miRNA landscape in breast cancer and the factors shaping it has not been undertaken. Here we report the results of profiling miRNA expression in 1,302 breast tumors with detailed clinical annotation and long-term follow-up, and for which matching genomic and mRNA expression data were available7. This provides a comprehensive view of the quantity, distribution and variation of the miRNA population and dissects how much genomic, transcriptional and post-transcriptional events contribute to miRNA expression architecture. The key clinical parameters and cellular pathways related to the miRNA landscape are identified, exemplified by context-dependent interaction with cell adhesion and Wnt signaling. Strikingly, in breast cancer miRNAs appear to act as modulators of mRNA-mRNA interactions rather than molecular switches. We demonstrate an important modulatory role for miRNAs in the biology of breast tumors devoid of somatic copy number aberrations, a common subtype where immune response is prominent. Remarkably, prognostic miRNA signatures derived in this subtype are consistently prognostic across several other subtypes and validate in external cohorts. These findings represent a new framework to study the biology of miRNA in human cancer.
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This study includes 6 datasets:
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