Breast cancer remains the most common malignant cancer in women, with a staggering incidence of two million cases annually worldwide; therefore, it is crucial to explore novel biomarkers to assess the diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer patients. NIMA-related kinase (NEK) protein kinase contains 11 family members named NEK1-NEK11, which were discovered from Aspergillus Nidulans; however, the role of NEK family genes for tumor development remains unclear and requires additional study. In the present study, we investigate the prognosis relationships of NEK family genes for breast cancer development, as well as the gene expression signature via the bioinformatics approach. The results of several integrative analyses revealed that most of the NEK family genes are overexpressed in breast cancer. Among these family genes, NEK2/6/8 overexpression had poor prognostic significance in distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) in breast cancer patients. Meanwhile, NEK2/6 had the highest level of DNA methylation, and the functional enrichment analysis from MetaCore and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) suggested that NEK2 was associated with the cell cycle, G2M checkpoint, DNA repair, E2F, MYC, MTORC1, and interferon-related signaling. Moreover, Tumor Immune Estimation Resource (TIMER) results showed that the transcriptional levels of NEK2 were positively correlated with immune infiltration of B cells and CD4+ T Cell. Collectively, the current study indicated that NEK family genes, especially NEK2 which is involved in immune infiltration, and may serve as prognosis biomarkers for breast cancer progression.
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