New Breast Cancer Gene identified. BCL11A drives triple negative breast cancer.

bgeneResearchers from the Wellcom Trust Sanger Institute have identified a new breast called BCL11A associated with driving the development and progression of triple negative breast .

The statistics reflect that one in five patients is affected by triple negative breast , defined as which lacks the three receptor proteins that respond to hormone therapies used for other sub-types of breast . The treatment prognosis for triple negative breast is poor.

The study focused on analyzing breast genes from 3000 patients. In doing so they found the BCL11A , which was extremely active in triple negative cancers, affecting eight out of ten patients with basal like breast and was associated with a more advanced grade of tumor.

“Our understanding of genes that drive stem cell development led us to search for consequences when these genes go wrong,” said Dr Pentao Liu, senior author on the study, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “It had all the hallmarks of a novel breast .”

“Our studies in human cells clearly marked BCL11A as a novel driver for triple-negative breast cancers,” said Dr Walid Khaled, joint first author on the study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge. “We also showed that adding an active human BCL11A to human or mouse breast cells in the lab drove them to behave as cells”. “As important, when we reduced the activity of BCL11A in three samples of human triple-negative breast cells, they lost some characteristics of cells and became less tumorigenic when tested in mice. So by increasing BCL11A activity we increase -like behaviour; by reducing it, we reduce -like behaviour.”

Upon inactivating the BCL11A in mice, none of the mice developed tumours in their mammary gland, compared to all of the untreated mice who developed tumors. It was also determined that BCL11A is required for normal development of breast stem cells and progenitors, which are thought to be the cells that, when mutated, give rise to basal-like breast .


BLC11A is a triple-negative breast with critical functions in stem and progenitor cells, Walid Khaled, et al., Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/ncomms6987, published online 9 January 2015.

Be Sociable, Share!

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *