Implications of differences in expression of sarcosine metabolism-related proteins according to the molecular subtype of breast cancer

Ja K. Yoon, Do H. Kim, Ja S. Koo

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The goal of this study was to investigate the expression of sarcosine metabolism-related proteins, namely glycine N-methyltransferase (GNMT), sarcosine dehydrogenase (SARDH), and l-pipecolic acid oxidase (PIPOX), in the different breast cancer subtypes and to assess the implications of differences in expression pattern according to subtype. Methods: We analyzed the expression of GNMT, SARDH, and PIPOX in a tissue microarray of 721 breast cancer cases using immunohistochemistry (IHC). We classified breast cancer cases into subtype luminal A, luminal B, HER-2, and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) according to the status for the estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), HER-2, and Ki-67. Sarcosine metabolism phenotype was stratified according to IHC results for GNMT, SARDH, and PIPOX: GNMT(+), SARDH and PIPOX(-) was classified as high sarcosine type; GNMT(-), SARDH or PIPOX(-) as low sarcosine type; GNMT(+), SARDH or PIPOX(+) as intermediate sarcosine type, and GNMT(-), SARDH and PIPOX(-) as null type. Results: Expression of sarcosine metabolism-related proteins differed significantly according to breast cancer subtype (GNMT, p = 0.005; SARDH, p = 0.012; tumoral PIPOX, p = 0.008; stromal PIPOX, p < 0.001). These proteins were the most frequently expressed in HER-2 type tumors and the least in TNBC. Sarcosine metabolism phenotype also varied according to breast cancer subtype, with high sarcosine type the most common in HER-2, and null type the most common in TNBC (p = 0.003). Univariate analysis revealed that GNMT expression (p = 0.042), tumoral PIPOX negativity (p = 0.039), and high sarcosine type (p = 0.021) were associated with shorter disease-free survival (DFS). Multivariate analysis also revealed GNMT expression was an independent factor for shorter DFS (hazard ratio: 2.408, 95% CI: 1.154-5.024, p = 0.019).Conclusion: Expressions of sarcosine metabolism-related proteins varied according to subtype of breast cancer, with HER-2 type tumors showing elevated expression of these proteins, and TNBC subtype showing decreased expression of these proteins. Expression of sarcosine metabolism-related proteins was also associated with breast cancer prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149
JournalJournal of translational medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 May 28

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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