Quantification of PKC family genes in sporadic breast cancer by qRT-PCR: Evidence that PKCι/λ overexpression is an independent prognostic factor



Drugs targeting protein kinase C (PKC) show promising therapeutic activity. However, little is known about the expression patterns of the 11 PKC genes in human tumors, and the clinical significance of most PKC genes is unknown. We used qRT-PCR assays to quantify mRNA levels of the 11 PKC genes in 458 breast tumors from patients with known clinical/pathological status and long-term outcome. The proportion of tumors in which the expression of the different genes was altered varied widely, from 9.6% for PKN2 to 40.2% for PKCι/λ. In breast tumors, overexpression was the main alteration observed for PKCι/λ (33.4%), PKCδ (29.5%) and PKCζ (9.6%), whereas underexpression was the main alteration observed for PKCα (27.3%), PKCε (11.6%), PKCη (8.7%) and PKN2 (8.1%). Both overexpression and underexpression were observed for PKCβ (underexpression 15.5%, overexpression 13.8%), PKCθ (underexpression 14.8%, overexpression 10.0%) and PKN1 (underexpression 6.6%, overexpression 7.4%). Several links were found between different PKC genes; and also between the expression patterns of PKC genes and several classical pathological and clinical parameters. PKCι/λ alone was found to have prognostic significance (p = 0.043), whereas PKCα showed a trend towards an influence on relapse-free survival (p = 0.052). PKCι/λ retained its prognostic significance in Cox multivariate regression analysis (p = 0.031). These results reveal very complex expression patterns of PKC genes in breast tumors, and suggest that their expression should be considered together when evaluating anti-tumoral drugs. PKCι/λ seems to be the most promising therapeutic target in breast cancer.