Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease, with several different subtypes being characterized by distinct histology, gene expression patterns, and genetic alterations. The tumor suppressor gene retinoblastoma 1 (RB1) is frequently lost in both luminal-B and triple-negative tumor (TNT; i.e., estrogen receptor–, progesterone receptor–, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–negative) breast cancer subtypes. However, a causal role for RB1 loss in different subtypes remains undefined. Here we report that deletion of Rb alone or together with its relative p107 in mouse mammary stem/bipotent progenitor cells induced focal acinar hyperplasia with squamous metaplasia. These lesions progressed into histologically diverse, transplantable mammary tumors with features of either luminal-B or TNT subtypes. The TNTs included basal-like tumors as well as tumors that exhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The EMT-type tumors and a subset of the basal-like tumors, but not luminal-B–like tumors, expressed mutant forms of the tumor suppressor p53. Accordingly, targeted deletion of both Rb and p53 in stem/bipotent progenitors led to histologically uniform, aggressive, EMT-type tumors. Reintroduction of Rb into these tumor cells suppressed growth in vitro and tumor formation in vivo. These results establish a causal role for Rb loss in breast cancer in mice and demonstrate that cooperating oncogenic events, such as mutations in p53, dictate tumor subtype after Rb inactivation.
Zhe Jiang, Tao Deng, Robert Jones, Huiqin Li, Jason I. Herschkowitz, Jeff C. Liu, Victor J. Weigman, Ming-Sound Tsao, Timothy F. Lane, Charles M. Perou, Eldad Zacksenhaus