Expression of regulators of mitotic fidelity are associated with intercellular heterogeneity and chromosomal instability in primary breast cancer


Regulators of transition through mitosis such as SURVIVIN and Aurora kinase A (AURKA) have been previously implicated in the initiation of chromosomal instability (CIN), a driver of intratumour heterogeneity. We investigate the relationship between protein expression of these genes and directly quantified CIN, and their prognostic utility in breast cancer. The expression of SURVIVIN and AURKA was determined by immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 426 patients with primary breast cancer. The association between protein expression and histopathological characteristics, clinical outcome and CIN status, as determined by centromeric FISH and defined by modal centromere deviation, was analysed. Significantly poorer clinical outcome was observed in patients with high AURKA expression levels. Expression of SURVIVIN was elevated in ER-negative relative to ER-positive breast cancer. Both AURKA and SURVIVIN increased expression were significantly associated with breast cancer grade. There was a significant association between increased CIN and both increased AURKA and SURVIVIN expression. AURKA gene amplification was also associated with increased CIN. To our knowledge this is the largest study assessing CIN status in parallel with the expression of the mitotic regulators AURKA and SURVIVIN. These data suggest that elevated expression of AURKA and SURVIVIN, together with AURKA gene amplification, are associated with increased CIN in breast cancer, and may be used as a proxy for CIN in breast cancer samples in the absence of more advanced molecular measurements.

Journal details

Volume 148
Issue number 1
Pages 221-229
Publication date