AKT1 (E17K) mutation profiling in breast cancer: prevalence, concurrent oncogenic alterations, and blood-based detection.

BACKGROUND: The single hotspot mutation AKT1 [G49A:E17K] has been described in several cancers, with the highest incidence observed in breast cancer. However, its precise role in disease etiology remains unknown.

METHODS: We analyzed more than 600 breast cancer tumor samples and circulating tumor DNA for AKT1 (E17K) and alterations in other cancer-associated genes using Beads, Emulsions, Amplification, and Magnetics digital polymerase chain reaction technology and targeted exome sequencing.

RESULTS: Overall AKT1 (E17K) mutation prevalence was 6.3 % and not correlated with age or menopausal stage. AKT1 (E17K) mutation frequency tended to be lower in patients with grade 3 disease (1.9 %) compared with those with grade 1 (11.1 %) or grade 2 (6 %) disease. In two cohorts of patients with advanced metastatic disease, 98.0 % (n = 50) and 97.1 % (n = 35) concordance was obtained between tissue and blood samples for the AKT1 (E17K) mutation, and mutation capture rates of 66.7 % (2/3) and 85.7 % (6/7) in blood versus tissue samples were observed. Although AKT1-mutant tumor specimens were often found to harbor concurrent alterations in other driver genes, a subset of specimens harboring AKT1 (E17K) as the only known driver alteration was also identified. Initial follow-up survival data suggest that AKT1 (E17K) could be associated with increased mortality. These findings warrant additional long-term follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that AKT1 (E17K) is the most likely disease driver in certain breast cancer patients. Blood-based mutation detection is achievable in advanced-stage disease. These findings underpin the need for a further enhanced-precision medicine paradigm in the treatment of breast cancer.