Genomic (in)stability of the breast tumor microenvironment

Seth Rummel, Allyson L. Valente, Jennifer L. Kane, Craig D. Shriver, Rachel E. Ellsworth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The breast tumor microenvironment plays an active role in tumorigenesis. Molecular alterations have been identified in tumor-associated stroma; however, there is considerable debate as to whether the stroma is characterized by genomic instability or whether detection of chromosomal alterations reflects technological artifact rather than the true genomic content of the tumor microenvironment. Thus, breast stroma specimens from 112 women undergoing reductive mammoplasty (n = 7), prophylactic mastectomy (n = 6), or mastectomy for a breast disease (n = 99) were frozen in optimal cutting temperature medium. Allelic imbalance (AI) analysis was conducted using a panel of 52 microsatellite markers in 484 stromal specimens from 98 women, of which 92% had no detectable AI events. When compared with previously generated AI data from 77 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) stroma specimens, 42% of which harbored at least one detectable AI event, the frequency of AI in the FFPE specimens (4.62%) was significantly higher (P < 0.001) than that found in frozen specimens (0.45%). This comparison of AI between FFPE and research-grade specimens suggests that past reports of AI in breast stroma reflect artifact in the archival specimens caused by formalin-fixation, paraffin-embedding and tissue storage. Furthermore, SNP data were generated from a subset of 86 stromal specimens using SNP arrays and copy number alterations were identified using Partek Genomics Suite. For 95% of the specimens, no detectable copy number alterations were found and the 11 changes that were detected were small and not shared between specimens. These data, therefore, support a model in which the tumor microenvironment is genetically stable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1526-1531
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


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