B-cell lymphoma gene (BCL-6) upregulation contributes to immortalization of mouse embryo fibroblast and primary B cells via upregulation of cyclin D1. As cyclin D1 overexpression is a common phenomenon in different cancers, BCL-6 protein overexpression may not be restricted to lymphomas. In this study, expression of BCL-6 was investigated by immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded specimens from 150 breast cancer patients and 10 specimens of normal breast tissue. The results showed BCL-6 overexpression (⩾10% of cells) in 24/150 (16%) breast cancer patients, whereas in normal breast low expression (<1%) of BCL-6 was observed. In linear regression analysis BCL-6 expression was associated with cyclin D1 (r=0.197, P=0.016). Further, in χ2 analyses, BCL-6-positivity was associated with overexpression of p53 (P=0.016), and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (P<0.001). Involvement of BCL-6 in breast carcinogenesis is further underscored by comparative genomic hybridization analysis that showed gains at the BCL-6 locus (3q27) in 14/86 (16%) breast cancer tissues. The cases with amplification in BCL-6 showed an increased (25%) incidence of BCL-6 protein overexpression. Thus, this study is the first to show that BCL-6 oncogene activation plays a role in cancers other than lymphomas.
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We are grateful to Dr Mehdi Jiwa from the Medical Center Alkmaar for providing tissue material of patients for CGH and BCL-6 staining. This work was supported by generous research support from the AEGON International Scholarship in Oncology (RB, PvdG, AEG, IH, AS), and in part by the KWF Grant 03-2825 (MAJAH).
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