Breast cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease, with several different subtypes being characterized by distinct histology, gene expression patterns, and genetic alterations. The tumor suppressor gene retinoblastoma 1 (RB1) is frequently lost in both luminal-B and triple-negative tumor (TNT; i.e., estrogen receptor-, progesterone receptor-, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative) breast cancer subtypes. However, a causal role for RB1 loss in different subtypes remains undefined. Here we report that deletion of Rb alone or together with its relative p107 in mouse mammary stem/bipotent progenitor cells induced focal acinar hyperplasia with squamous metaplasia. These lesions progressed into histologically diverse, transplantable mammary tumors with features of either luminal-B or TNT subtypes. The TNTs included basal-like tumors as well as tumors that exhibited epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The EMT-type tumors and a subset of the basal-like tumors, but not luminal-B-like tumors, expressed mutant forms of the tumor suppressor p53. Accordingly, targeted deletion of both Rb and p53 in stem/bipotent progenitors led to histologically uniform, aggressive, EMT-type tumors. Reintroduction of Rb into these tumor cells suppressed growth in vitro and tumor formation in vivo. These results establish a causal role for Rb loss in breast cancer in mice and demonstrate that cooperating oncogenic events, such as mutations in p53, dictate tumor subtype after Rb inactivation.
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