Protein isoforms produced by alternative splicing (AS) of many genes have been implicated in several aspects of cancer genesis and progression. These observations motivated a genome-wide assessment of AS in breast cancer. We accomplished this by measuring exon level expression in 31 breast cancer and nonmalignant immortalized cell lines representing luminal, basal, and claudin-low breast cancer subtypes using Affymetrix Human Junction Arrays. We analyzed these data using a computational pipeline specifically designed to detect AS with a low false-positive rate. This identified 181 splice events representing 156 genes as candidates for AS. Reverse transcription-PCR validation of a subset of predicted AS events confirmed 90%. Approximately half of the AS events were associated with basal, luminal, or claudin-low breast cancer subtypes. Exons involved in claudin-low subtype–specific AS were significantly associated with the presence of evolutionarily conserved binding motifs for the tissue-specific Fox2 splicing factor. Small interfering RNA knockdown of Fox2 confirmed the involvement of this splicing factor in subtype-specific AS. The subtype-specific AS detected in this study likely reflects the splicing pattern in the breast cancer progenitor cells in which the tumor arose and suggests the utility of assays for Fox-mediated AS in cancer subtype definition and early detection. These data also suggest the possibility of reducing the toxicity of protein-targeted breast cancer treatments by targeting protein isoforms that are not present in limiting normal tissues. Mol Cancer Res; 8(7); 961–74. ©2010 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Research Online (http://mcr.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received December 7, 2009.
- Revision received May 21, 2010.
- Accepted June 1, 2010.
- ©2010 American Association for Cancer Research.