Homologous recombination deficiency represents a new therapeutic strategy for breast cancer brain metastases Nicola S Cosgrove
BACKGROUND: Brain metastatic disease occurs in 10-30% of metastatic breast cancer cases. The incidence of brain metastases is increasing, yet overall survival remains < 2 years. Treatment of brain metastases is limited with current clinical practice centered on radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Although these treatments may prolong survival in the short term, targeting oncogenic alterations in brain metastases may deliver a more sustained clinical benefit. In this multicenter study, we comprehensively characterized DNA and RNA alterations that aberrantly drive specific oncogenic pathway activity pertinent to breast cancer brain metastases (BCBM). METHODS: RNA sequencing was performed on a cohort of patient-matched primary and resected brain metastatic tumours (45 patients; N=90 samples). Whole exome DNA sequencing (WXS) was performed for 18/45 patients (54 trios consisting of primary tumor, brain metastasis and matched normal tissue). An independent brain metastatic WXS cohort (N=21 patients) (PMID: 26410082) was also analysed resulting in a total of 39 patient samples. Recurrent somatic copy number alterations (SCNA), somatic single nucleotide variants (SNVs) and mutational signatures were identified from WXS data. Expressed gene fusions were detected computationally from RNA-Seq (N=45 cases)

RESULTS: Of the 45 BCBM patients, median age at diagnosis was 51 years [25, 67], median overall survival 57 months (range 18-255) with median brain metastases free survival 34 months (range 5-216).Clinical molecular subtype of the primary tumour included 13 ER+/HER2- (29%), 16 HER2+ (35.5%) and 16 TNBC (35.5%). Regions of significant recurrent amplifications and deletions in BCBM (N=39 patients) were identified in 4q12, 10q11.21, 8p11.23, 8q23.3 and 17q12 (FDR < 0.10). Recurrent expressed gene fusions identified in known cancer driver genes were associated with chromatin modification, MAPK and HER signaling pathways. Mutational signature analysis of SNVs identified signatures associated with ageing, mismatch repair and homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) mutational processes. The relative contribution of the HRD signature was
significantly increased in brain metastases compared to matched primary tumour (p < 0.05). Concordantly increased HRD in the brain metastatic transcriptome was confirmed in these patients by gene set variation analysis (GSVA) of homologous recombination pathway genes from KEGG database in RNA-Seq data. Moreover, in the extended BCBM RNA-Seq (N=45 patients) GSVA pathway scores were elevated in brain metastases relative to primary tumours, validating the functional significance of altered DNA repair defects in brain metastases CONCLUSIONS: Here, we report recurrent genetic drivers, supported by altered functional transcriptome, unique to brain metastasis that may have
clinical implications for prognosis and treatment choice. Specifically, targeting defects in the homologous recombination repair mechanism may represent new therapeutic strategies and management opportunities for breast cancer brain metastases patients.