Distinct microbial signatures associated with different breast cancer types

Sagarika Banerjee, Tian Tian, Zhi Wei, Natalie Shih, Michael D. Feldman, Kristen N. Peck, Angela M. DeMichele, James C. Alwine, Erle S. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


A dysbiotic microbiome can potentially contribute to the pathogenesis of many different diseases including cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Thus, we investigated the diversity of the microbiome in the four major types of breast cancer: endocrine receptor (ER) positive, triple positive, Her2 positive and triple negative breast cancers. Using a whole genome and transcriptome amplification and a pan-pathogen microarray (PathoChip) strategy, we detected unique and common viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic signatures for each of the breast cancer types. These were validated by PCR and Sanger sequencing. Hierarchical cluster analysis of the breast cancer samples, based on their detected microbial signatures, showed distinct patterns for the triple negative and triple positive samples, while the ER positive and Her2 positive samples shared similar microbial signatures. These signatures, unique or common to the different breast cancer types, provide a new line of investigation to gain further insights into prognosis, treatment strategies and clinical outcome, as well as better understanding of the role of the micro-organisms in the development and progression of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number951
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberMAY
StatePublished - May 15 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


  • Endocrine receptor positive breast cancer
  • HER2 positive breast cancer
  • Microbiome
  • Triple negative breast cancer
  • Triple positive breast cancer


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