Detection of breast cancer stem cell gene mutations in circulating free DNA during the evolution of metastases

Zhe Bin Liu, Nader E. Ezzedine, Agda K. Eterovic, Joe E. Ensor, Helen J. Huang, Joan Albanell, Dong S. Choi, Ana Lluch, Yi Liu, Federico Rojo, Helen Wong, Eduardo Martínez-Dueñas, Ángel Guerrero-Zotano, Zhi Min Shao, Jorge G. Darcourt, Gordon B. Mills, Bhuvanesh Dave, Jenny C. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: Limited knowledge exists on the detection of breast cancer stem cell (BCSC)-related mutations in circulating free DNA (cfDNA) from patients with advanced cancers. Identification of new cancer biomarkers may allow for earlier detection of disease progression and treatment strategy modifications. Methods: We conducted a prospective study to determine the feasibility and prognostic utility of droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR)-based BCSC gene mutation analysis of cfDNA in patients with breast cancer. Results: Detection of quantitative BCSC gene mutation in cfDNA by ddPCR mirrors disease progression and thus may represent a valuable and cost-effective measure of tumor burden. We have previously shown that hematological and neurological expressed 1-like (HN1L), ribosomal protein L39 (RPL39), and myeloid leukemia factor 2 (MLF2) are novel targets for BCSC self-renewal, and targeting these genetic alterations could be useful for personalized genomic-based therapy. Conclusion: BCSC mutation detection in cfDNA may have important implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and serial monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction
  • Metastasis
  • Mutation
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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