Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 16, 2018

BCL2L12: a multiply spliced gene with independent prognostic significance in breast cancer

Athina Kladi-Skandali, Diamantis C. Sideris and Andreas Scorilas ORCID logo



Alternative splicing is a key process in carcinogenesis and, from a clinical aspect, holds great promises, as alternatively spliced variants have emerged as an untapped source of diagnostic and prognostic markers. Our aim was to assess the prognostic value of three recently recognized splice variants of the apoptosis-related gene, BCL2L12, in breast cancer (BC).


Total RNA was extracted from breast samples (150 BC and 80 tumor-adjacent normal tissues) and, following cDNA synthesis, a variant-specific qPCR was performed for the expressional quantification of BCL2L12 v.1, v.2 and v.4 transcript variants. Extensive statistical analysis, including bootstrap resampling and internal validation, was conducted in order to evaluate the associations of v.1, v.2 and v.4 expression with patients’ clinopathological and survival data.


All examined BCL2L12 variants were significantly upregulated in BC specimens compared to their non-cancerous counterpart (v.1, p<0.001; v.2, p=0.009; v.4, p=0.004). Increased BCL2L12 v.4 mRNA expression was associated with markers of unfavorable prognosis namely, advanced tumor grade (p=0.002), ER- (p=0.015)/PR- (p<0.001) negativity, Ki-67-positivity (p=0.007) and high NPI (Nottingham prognostic index) score (p=0.033). Moreover, v.4 was significantly overexpressed in women with triple negative BC (TNBC) and HER2-positive tumors compared to those harboring luminal tumors (p<0.001). Survival analysis disclosed that BCL2L12 v.2 overexpression, as a continuous variable ([HR]=0.45, 95% CI=0.17–0.82, p=0.010), is a strong and independent marker of favorable prognosis for BC patients. Interestingly, v.2 retains its prognostic value in patients with Grade II/III ([HR]=0.21, 95% CI=0.05–0.57, p=0.006) or HER2-positive/TNBC tumors ([HR]=0.25, 95% CI=0.05–0.74, p=0.042).


BCL2L12 v.1, v.2, v.4 are aberrantly expressed in BC. Their expressional analysis by cost-effective molecular methods could provide a novel molecular tool for BC management.

Corresponding author: Dr. Andreas Scorilas, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian, University of Athens, 15701 Panepistimiopolis, Athens, Greece, Phone: +30-210-727-4306, Fax: +30-210-727-4158


We thank Prof. A. Ardavanis (First Department of Oncology, “St. Savvas” Anticancer Hospital, Athens, Greece) for kindly providing breast tissue samples along with detailed patient characteristics, tumor clinical and histopathological features and for his thorough revision of our manuscript.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2018-03-14
Accepted: 2018-09-06
Published Online: 2018-10-16
Published in Print: 2018-12-19

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