Allelic imbalance at the HER2/TOP2A locus in breast cancer

C.J.J. Huijsmans*, A.J.C. van den Brule, H. Rigter, J. Poodt, J.C. van der Linden, P.H.M. Savelkoul, M. Hilbink, M.H.A. Hermans

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease with various histological features and molecular markers. These are utilized for the prediction of clinical outcome and therapeutic decision making. In addition to well established markers such as HER2 overexpression and estrogen and progesterone receptor (ER and PR) status, chromosomal instability is evolving as an important hallmark of cancers. The HER2/TOP2A locus is of great importance in breast cancer. The copy number variability at this locus has been proposed to be a marker for the degree of chromosomal instability. We therefore developed a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) assay to evaluate allelic imbalance at the HER2/TOP2A locus in three different entities of primary breast tumors. METHODS: Eleven SNPs were carefully selected and detected by real time PCR using DNA extracted from paired (histologically normal and tumor) paraffin-embedded tissues. Primary breast tumors of 44 patients were included, 15 tumors with HER2 overexpression, 16 triple negative tumors, defined by the absence of HER2 overexpression and a negative ER and PR status and 13 ER and PR positive tumors without HER2 overexpression. As controls, histologically normal breast tissues from 10 patients with no breast tumor were included. RESULTS: Allelic imbalance was observed in 13/15 (87 %) HER2 positive tumors, the remaining 2 being inconclusive. Of the 16 triple negative tumors, 12 (75 %) displayed instability, 3 (19 %) displayed no instability, and 1 was inconclusive. Of the 13 hormone receptor positive tumors, 5 (38 %) displayed allelic imbalance, while 8 did not. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the SNP assay is suitable for rapid testing of allelic (im)balance at the HER2/TOP2A locus using paraffin-embedded tissues. Based on allelic imbalance at this locus, both triple negative and ER and PR positive breast tumors can be subcategorized. The clinical relevance of the allelic (im)balance status at the HER2/TOP2A locus in breast cancer is subject of future study. VIRTUAL SLIDES: The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Number of pages9
JournalDiagnostic Pathology
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2015


  • Breast cancer
  • Allelic instability
  • HER2
  • TOP2A
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism

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