Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for 15-20% of the breast cancer cases.

These tumors are heterogeneous and aggressive, fail to respond to targeted therapy, have poor prognosis, and a high risk of relapse. The molecular basis of this breast cancer subtype is currently unknown. Viruses, such as human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and human papillomavirus (HPV), are major suspects in the etiology of breast cancer. Since miRNAs have been implicated in the pathogenesis of breast cancer, including triple-negative breast cancer, we hypothesized that viral miRNAs may play a role in this aggressive disease. The objective of this project, therefore, was to determine the identity, prevalence, sequence variation, and differential expression of viral miRNAs in TNBC tumors as compared to control samples. We conducted a comprehensive profiling of viral miRNAs in 48 TNBC tumors as compared to 15 control normal breast tissues, utilizing deep sequencing analysis software and publically available deep sequencing data. Five novel putative HCMV miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed in TNBC tumors as compared to controls. Two of the putative miRNAs were differentially expressed in 60-79% of the TNBC tumors as compared to 0% of normal controls. Two additional putative miRNAs were expressed in 67-88% of TNBC tumors as compared to 25-31% of normal controls. One putative miRNA was expressed in 67% of TNBC tumors as compared to 88% of normal samples, while 1 putative miRNA in addition to HCMV-US25-1-3p displayed no significant differences. These putative HCMV miRNAs localize within genomic regions of HCMV that encode UL56 DNA packaging terminase subunit 2, single-stranded DNA-binding protein, noncoding RNA4.9, and enveloped glycoprotein M. Ongoing work has so far computationally validated one of these miRNAs as a novel HCMV miRNA. This is the first report on the differential expression of HCMV miRNAs in TNBC tumors. Since TNBC tumors are extremely heterogeneous, it is intriguing that 60-80% of TNBC tumors specifically express the same HCMV miRNA. Our findings suggest that these differentially expressed HCMV miRNAs may potentially play a role in the pathogenesis of TNBC.

Citation Format: Tia Hudson, Scott Harrison, Dukka K C, Jan Prins, Perpetua M. Muganda. Differential expression of human cytomegalovirus microRNA in triple-negative breast cancer tumors. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 1120.