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Open Access Research article

Expression of quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase 1 is associated with a highly invasive phenotype and correlates with a poor prognosis in Luminal B breast cancer

Benjamin A Katchman1, I Tolgay Ocal2, Heather E Cunliffe3, Yu-Hui Chang4, Galen Hostetter3, Aprill Watanabe3, Janine LoBello3 and Douglas F Lake1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, PO Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA

2 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic Arizona, 13400 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA

3 Department of Investigational Pathology, Translational Genomics Research Institute, 445 N Fifth St., Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA

4 Division of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic Arizona, 13208 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2013, 15:R28  doi:10.1186/bcr3407


See related editorial by Das et al., http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/15/3/104

Published: 28 March 2013

Abstract

Introduction

Quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase 1 (QSOX1) oxidizes sulfhydryl groups to form disulfide bonds in proteins. Tumor specific expression of QSOX1 has been reported for numerous tumor types. In this study, we investigate QSOX1 as a marker of breast tumor progression and evaluate the role of QSOX1 as it relates to breast tumor growth and metastasis.

Methods

Correlation of QSOX1 expression with breast tumor grade, subtype and estrogen receptor (ER) status was gathered through informatic analysis using the "Gene expression based Outcome for Breast cancer Online" (GOBO) web-based tool. Expression of QSOX1 protein in breast tumors tissue microarray (TMA) and in a panel of breast cancer cell lines was used to confirm our informatics analysis. To investigate malignant cell mechanisms for which QSOX1 might play a key role, we suppressed QSOX1 protein expression using short hairpin (sh) RNA in ER+ Luminal A-like MCF7, ER+ Luminal B-like BT474 and ER- Basal-like BT549 breast cancer cell lines.

Results

GOBO analysis revealed high levels of QSOX1 RNA expression in ER+ subtypes of breast cancer. In addition, Kaplan Meyer analyses revealed QSOX1 RNA as a highly significant predictive marker for both relapse and poor overall survival in Luminal B tumors. We confirmed this finding by evaluation of QSOX1 protein expression in breast tumors and in a panel of breast cancer cell lines. Expression of QSOX1 in breast tumors correlates with increasing tumor grade and high Ki-67 expression. Suppression of QSOX1 protein slowed cell proliferation as well as dramatic inhibition of MCF7, BT474 and BT549 breast tumor cells from invading through Matrigelâ„¢ in a modified Boyden chamber assay. Inhibition of invasion could be rescued by the exogenous addition of recombinant QSOX1. Gelatin zymography indicated that QSOX1 plays an important role in the function of MMP-9, a key mediator of breast cancer invasive behavior.

Conclusions

Taken together, our results suggest that QSOX1 is a novel biomarker for risk of relapse and poor survival in Luminal B breast cancer, and has a pro-proliferative and pro-invasive role in malignant progression partly mediated through a decrease in MMP-9 functional activity.