Sensitivity to differential NRF1 gene signatures contributes to breast cancer disparities

Jairo Ramos, Changwon Yoo, Quentin Felty, Zhenghua Gong, Juan P. Liuzzi, Robert Poppiti, Indu Shekhar Thakur, Ruchika Goel, Ashok Kumar Vaid, Ricardo Jorge Komotar, Nasreen Z. Ehtesham, Seyed E. Hasnain, Deodutta Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1) drives estrogen-dependent breast tumorigenesis. Herein we examined the impact of NRF1 activity on the aggressiveness and disparate molecular signature of breast cancer in Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic women. Methods: NRF1 activity by transcription factor target enrichment analysis and causal NRF1-target gene signatures by Bayesian Network Inference with Java Objects (BANJO) and Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC)-based gene order were examined in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) breast cancer cohorts. Results: We are the first to report increased NRF1 activity based on its differential effects on genome-wide transcription associated with luminal A and B, HER2+ and triple-negative (TN) molecular subtypes of breast cancer in women of different race/ethnicity. We observed disparate NRF1 motif-containing causal gene signatures unique to Black, White, Asian, and Hispanic women for luminal A breast cancer. Further gene order searches showed molecular heterogeneity of each subtype of breast cancer. Six different gene order sequences involving CDK1, HMMR, CCNB2, CCNB1, E2F1, CREB3L4, GTSE1, and LMNB1 with almost equal weight predicted the probability of luminal A breast cancer in whites. Three different gene order sequences consisting of CCNB1 and GTSE1, and CCNB1, LMNB1, CDK1 or CASP3 predicted almost 100% probability of luminal B breast cancer in whites; CCNB1 and LMNB1 or GTSE predicted 100% HER2+ breast cancer in whites. GTSE1 and TUBA1C combined together predicted 100% probability of developing TNBC in whites; NRF1, TUBA1B and BAX with EFNA4, and NRF1 and BTRC predicated 100% TNBC in blacks. High expressor NRF1 TN breast tumors showed unfavorable prognosis with a high risk of breast cancer death in white women. Conclusion: Our findings showed how sensitivity to high NRF1 transcriptional activity coupled with its target gene signatures contribute to racial differences in luminal A and TN breast cancer subtypes. This knowledge may be useful in personalized intervention to prevent and treat this clinically challenging problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2777-2815
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of cancer research and clinical oncology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Breast cancer disparity
  • Causal NRF1 gene signatures
  • NRF1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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