Sox2: a possible driver of the basal-like phenotype in sporadic breast cancer.
Tumours arising in BRCA1 mutation carriers and sporadic basal-like breast carcinomas have similar phenotypic, immunohistochemical and clinical characteristics. SOX2 is an embryonic transcription factor located at chromosome 3q, a region frequently gained in sporadic basal-like and BRCA1 germline mutated tumours. The aim of the study was to establish whether sox2 expression was related to basal-like sporadic breast tumours. Two hundred and twenty-six sporadic node-negative invasive breast carcinomas were immunohistochemically analysed for oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), CK5/6, EGFR, vimentin, HER2, ki67, p53 and sox2 using tissue microarrays. Tumours were considered to have basal-like phenotype if they were ER/HER2-negative and CK5/6 and/or EGFR-positive. Thirty cases of this series (13.7%) displayed a basal-like phenotype. Sox2 expression was observed in 16.7% of cases and was significantly more frequently expressed in basal-like breast carcinomas (43.3% in basal-like, 10.6% in luminal and 13.3% in HER2+ tumours, P<0.001). Moreover, Sox2 showed a statistically significant inverse association with ER and PR (P=0.001 and 0.017, respectively) and direct association with CK5/6, EGFR and vimentin (P=0.022, 0.005 and <0.001, respectively). Sox2 is preferentially expressed in tumours with basal-like phenotype and may play a role in defining their less differentiated/'stem cell' phenotypic characteristics.