Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 140, Issue 2, pp 307–316 | Cite as

The oestrogen receptor coactivator CARM1 has an oncogenic effect and is associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer

  • Hany Onsy Habashy
  • Emad A. Rakha
  • Ian O. EllisEmail author
  • Desmond G. Powe
Preclinical study


The coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase-1 (CARM1) is implicated in regulation of oestrogen receptor (ER) α-mediated gene pathways in response to ER activation. It plays an important role in breast cancer growth by regulating the E2F1 expression suggesting that CARM1 could be a target in the subclassification of oestrogen-dependent breast cancer. This study aims to investigate the clinical and biological importance of CARM1 protein expression in a large (1,130 patients), well-characterised and annotated series of invasive breast cancers using tissue microarrays and immunohistochemistry. In the whole series, increased CARM1 expression is correlated with features associated with aggressive behaviour such as young age, premenopausal status, large tumour size and high tumour grade. There is a positive correlation between CARM1 expression and biomarkers associated with non-luminal phenotype and poor prognosis such as HER2, basal cytokeratins, EGFR, p53 and the proliferation markers Ki67, TK1, CD71 and Cyclin E. Negative associations with the luminal-associated markers including steroid receptors and luminal cytokeratins are found. Similar associations are identified in the ER-positive/luminal subgroup (n = 767). Outcome analyses indicate that CARM1 expression is an independent predictor of shorter breast cancer-specific survival and disease-free interval in the whole series and in the ER-positive subgroup. CARM1 shows an oncogenic effect in breast cancer and its expression is associated with poor prognosis. CARM1 could be a potential marker of luminal class subclassification and for target therapy, particularly in the ER-positive luminal-like subgroup.


Breast carcinoma CARM1 Oestrogen receptor Prognosis Immunohistochemistry Coactivators 



We thank the ministry of higher education and Mansoura University (Egypt) for funding HO Habashy. Funding (salaries and infrastructure) was provided by the University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hany Onsy Habashy
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emad A. Rakha
    • 1
  • Ian O. Ellis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Desmond G. Powe
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of HistopathologyNottingham City Hospital, School of Molecular Medical Sciences, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS TrustNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Department of PathologyFaculty of Medicine, Mansoura UniversityMansouraEgypt
  3. 3.The John van Geest Cancer Research CentreNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK

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