Elevated APOBEC3B Correlates with Poor Outcomes for Estrogen-Receptor-Positive Breast Cancers

Anieta M. Sieuwerts, Scooter Willis, Michael B. Burns, Maxime P. Look, Marion E.Meijer Van Gelder, Andreas Schlicker, Marinus R. Heideman, Heinz Jacobs, Lodewyk Wessels, Brian Leyland-Jones, Kathryn P. Gray, John A. Foekens, Reuben S. Harris, John W.M. Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


Recent observations connected DNA cytosine deaminase APOBEC3B to the genetic evolution of breast cancer. We addressed whether APOBEC3B is associated with breast cancer clinical outcomes. APOBEC3B messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were related in 1,491 primary breast cancers to disease-free (DFS), metastasis-free (MFS), and overall survival (OS). For independent validation, APOBEC3B mRNA expression was associated with patient outcome data in five additional cohorts (over 3,500 breast cancer cases). In univariate Cox regression analysis, increasing APOBEC3B expression as a continuous variable was associated with worse DFS, MFS, and OS (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.20, 1.21, and 1.24, respectively; all P <.001). Also, in untreated ER-positive (ER+), but not in ER−, lymph-node-negative patients, high APOBEC3B levels were associated with a poor DFS (continuous variable: HR = 1.29, P =.001; dichotomized at the median level, HR = 1.66, P =.0002). This implies that APOBEC3B is a marker of pure prognosis in ER + disease. These findings were confirmed in the analyses of five independent patient sets. In these analyses, APOBEC3B expression dichotomized at the median level was associated with adverse outcomes (METABRIC discovery and validation, 788 and 706 ER + cases, disease-specific survival (DSS), HR = 1.77 and HR = 1.77, respectively, both P <.001; Affymetrix dataset, 754 ER + cases, DFS, HR = 1.57, P = 2.46E-04; NKI295, 181 ER + cases, DFS, HR = 1.72, P =.054; and BIG 1-98, 1,219 ER + cases, breast-cancer-free interval (BCFI), HR = 1.42, P = 0.0079). APOBEC3B is a marker of pure prognosis and poor outcomes for ER + breast cancer, which strongly suggests that genetic aberrations induced by APOBEC3B contribute to breast cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalHormones and Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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