Research Papers: Pathology:

Differential expression of major histocompatibility complex class I in subtypes of breast cancer is associated with estrogen receptor and interferon signaling

Hee Jin Lee, In Hye Song, In Ah Park, Sun-Hee Heo, Young-Ae Kim, Jin-Hee Ahn and Gyungyub Gong _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:30119-30132. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8798

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Hee Jin Lee1,*, In Hye Song1,*, In Ah Park1, Sun-Hee Heo1, Young-Ae Kim1, Jin-Hee Ahn2 and Gyungyub Gong1

1 Department of Pathology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

2 Department of Oncology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Gyungyub Gong, email:

Keywords: breast carcinoma; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes; major histocompatibility complex I; human leukocyte antigen; Pathology Section

Received: December 14, 2015 Accepted: April 03, 2016 Published: April 18, 2016


Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) have a strong prognostic and predictive significance. However, the mechanism of TIL influx in TNBC is unclear. Expression of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) on the tumor cell is essential for the effective killing of tumor by cytotoxic TILs. In our current study, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) expression was inversely correlated with estrogen receptor (ER) expression in normal and cancerous breast tissue and positively correlated with TILs in breast cancer. The ER score was inversely correlated with TILs in breast cancer. HLA-A and CD8B gene expression was negatively correlated with ESR1 and positively correlated with interferon-associated gene expression in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data. Negative correlation between ESR1 and HLA and positive correlation between interferon-associated and HLA gene expression were also confirmed in Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia (CCLE) data. Taken together, our data suggest that a lower expression of HLA in luminal-type tumors might be associated with low level of TILs in those tumors. Further investigation of the mechanism of higher HLA expression and TIL influx in TNBC may help to boost the host immune response.

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