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Breast cancer is the most prevalent malignancy among females, but the molecular mechanisms involved in its pathogenesis and progression have remained to be fully elucidated. The aim of the present study was to identify novel potential therapeutic targets for breast cancer. The dataset GSE76275 was downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus database and weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) was performed to identify hub genes. Furthermore, the dataset GSE25055, containing gene expression data and clinical information, was downloaded to validate the expression and survival association of these hub genes. In addition, the datasets GSE25065 and GSE42568 were used to validate the association between hub gene expression levels and clinical features. Immunohistochemistry (IHC), reverse transcription-quantitative PCR, as well as proliferation, migration, invasion and apoptosis assays, were used to verify gene expression and function. A total of 4,052 genes were selected for WGCNA and 18 modules were established; the red module was identified as the key module, as it had a strong positive correlation with the tumor grade. Survival analyses of hub genes [S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase proenzyme (AMD1), homeobox protein engrailed-1 (EN1) and vestigial-like protein (VGLL1)] indicated that higher levels of gene expression were associated with poor prognosis of patients with breast cancer. This association was based on survival analysis of GSE25055 using the Kaplan-Meier plotter tool. Expression validation revealed that the upregulation of hub genes was associated with advanced tumor grade and malignant molecular subtype (basal-like). IHC results from the Human Protein Atlas also demonstrated that protein expression levels of the hub genes were higher in tumor tissues compared with those in adjacent normal tissues. Furthermore, the expression levels of AMD1, EN1 and VGLL1 were strongly correlated with each other. These results demonstrated that AMD1 is highly expressed in breast cancer tissues and cells and AMD1 knockdown decreased the proliferation and metastatic potential, while increasing apoptosis of breast cancer cells. These results suggested that AMD1, EN1 and VGLL1 are likely to contribute to breast cancer progression and unfavorable prognosis. Copyright: © Yang et al.


Lijie Yang, Xuanfei Li, Yixing Luo, Tiecheng Yang, Huaqiao Wang, Liwen Shi, Maohui Feng, Wei Xie. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis of the association between upregulated AMD1, EN1 and VGLL1 and the progression and poor prognosis of breast cancer. Experimental and therapeutic medicine. 2021 Sep;22(3):1030

PMID: 34373716

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