Immune checkpoint blockade has achieved great success in cancer treatment, however, its efficacy is limited in breast cancer treatment. The identification and evaluation of novel prognostic biomarkers in the immune microenvironment will be helpful for immunotherapy-based breast cancer treatment.
In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, the research group led by Prof. YANG Wulin and Prof. WANG Hongzhi from the Institute of Health and Medical Technology, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, identified a novel immune-related therapeutic target, N-formyl peptide receptor (FPR3), in the tissue microenvironment of breast cancer.
The researchers first used bioinformatics to study gene expression data in the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to investigate the tumor microenvironmental factors related to breast cancer.
They then analyzed the result with weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) to identify a gene functional module associated with tumor immune score.
Although protein-protein interaction (PPI) network analysis showed that many immune checkpoint genes were enriched in the immune-related functional module, “star” immune checkpoints, such as CTLA4 and PDCD1, were not strongly associated with the prognosis of breast cancer.
Besides, the researchers found that, among the functional modules related to immune score and associated with an unfavorable prognosis, FPR3, a G-protein-coupled receptor necessary for neutrophil activation, is the only gene that is up-regulated.
“Genome enrichment analysis showed that the up-regulation of FRP3 could synergize with the activation of multiple carcinogenic pathways, and it is a key immune-related biomarker for predicting, and could contribute to the development of new therapy for breast cancer,” said Prof. YANG.
Reference: Jian Qi, Yu Liu, Jiliang Hu et al., “Identification of FPR3 as a Unique Biomarker for Targeted Therapy in the Immune Microenvironment of Breast Cancer”, Front. Pharmacol., 11 February 2021 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.593247
Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences