Women of African ancestry suffer higher rates of breast cancer mortality compared with all other groups in the United States. Though the precise reasons for these disparities remain unclear, many recent studies have implicated a role for differences in tumor biology. Using an epitope-validated antibody against the endoplasmic reticulum–associated E3 ligase, gp78, we show that elevated levels of gp78 in patient breast cancer cells predict poor survival. Moreover, high levels of gp78 are associated with poor outcomes in both ER+ and ER– tumors, and breast cancers expressing elevated amounts of gp78 protein are enriched in gene expression pathways that influence cell cycle, metabolism, receptor-mediated signaling, and cell stress response pathways. In multivariate analysis adjusted for subtype and grade, gp78 protein is an independent predictor of poor outcomes in women of African ancestry. Furthermore, gene expression signatures, derived from patients stratified by gp78 protein expression, are strong predictors of recurrence and pathological complete response in retrospective clinical trial data and share many common features with gene sets previously identified to be overrepresented in breast cancers based on race. These findings implicate a prominent role for gp78 in tumor progression and offer insights into our understanding of racial differences in breast cancer outcomes.
Sandeep K. Singhal, Jung S. Byun, Tingfen Yan, Ryan Yancey, Ambar Caban, Sara Gil Hernandez, Sediqua Bufford, Stephen M. Hewitt, Joy Winfield, Jaya Pradhan, Vesco Mustkov, Jasmine A. McDonald, Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, Anna María Nápoles, Nasreen Vohra, Adriana De Siervi, Clayton Yates, Melissa B. Davis, Mei Yang, Yien Che Tsai, Allan M. Weissman, Kevin Gardner