Analysis of publicly available genomic and gene expression data demonstrates that MCL1 expression is frequently elevated in breast cancer. Distinct from other pro-survival Bcl-2 family members, the short half-life of MCL-1 protein led us to investigate MCL-1 protein expression in a breast cancer tissue microarray and correlate this with clinical data. Here, we report associations between high MCL-1 and poor prognosis in specific subtypes of breast cancer including triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form that lacks targeted treatment options. Deletion of MCL-1 in the mammary epithelium of genetically engineered mice revealed an absolute requirement for MCL-1 in breast tumorigenesis. The clinical applicability of these findings was tested through a combination of approaches including knock-down or inhibition of MCL-1 to show triple-negative breast cancer cell line dependence on MCL-1 in vitro and in vivo. Our data demonstrate that high MCL-1 protein expression is associated with poor outcome in breast cancer and support the therapeutic targeting of MCL-1 in this disease.
- Breast Cancer