TERT promoter status and gene copy number gains: effect on TERT expression and association with prognosis in breast cancer

Abstract : Upregulation of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene in human cancers leads to telomerase activation, which contributes to the growth advantage and survival of tumor cells. Molecular mechanisms of TERT upregulation are complex, tumor-specific and can be clinically relevant. To investigate these mechanisms in breast cancer, we sequenced the TERT promoter, evaluated TERT copy number changes and assessed the expression of the MYC oncogene, a known transcriptional TERT regulator, in two breast cancer cohorts comprising a total of 122 patients. No activating TERT promoter mutations were found, suggesting that this mutational mechanism is not likely to be involved in TERT upregulation in breast cancer. The T349C promoter polymorphism found in up to 50% of cases was not correlated with TERT expression, but T349C carriers had significantly shorter disease-free survival. TERT gains (15-25% of cases) were strongly correlated with increased TERT mRNA expression and worse patient prognosis in terms of disease-free and overall survival. Particularly aggressive breast cancers were characterized by an association of TERT gains with MYC overexpression. These results evidence a significant effect of gene copy number gain on the level of TERT expression and provide a new insight into the clinical significance of TERT and MYC upregulation in breast cancer.
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Mathilde Gay-Bellile, Lauren Veronese, Patricia Combes, Eléonore Eymard-Pierre, Fabrice Kwiatkowski, et al.. TERT promoter status and gene copy number gains: effect on TERT expression and association with prognosis in breast cancer. Oncotarget, Impact journals, 2017, 8 (44), pp.77540-77551. ⟨10.18632/oncotarget.20560⟩. ⟨hal-01652833⟩

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