For experimental validation, altogether 88 cases of tumor tissues and paired para-carcinoma tissues were obtained from patients with TNBC, who had undergone radical resection surgical of tumor between 2007 and 2014 with a median duration of follow-up of 45.8 months at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, China. The dissected samples were stored in liquid nitrogen immediately until extraction of total RNA. Meanwhile, a series of immortalized breast cancer cell lines (such as MDA-MB-231, bone metastatic 231-BO, lung metastatic 231-HM), the mammary epithelial cell line MCF10A as well as its derived pre-malignant cell line MCF10DCIS, malignant cell line MCF10Ca1h and MCF10Ca1a were employed. According to the recommendations from the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), the MDA-MB-231, 231-BO and 231-HM cells were routinely maintained in Leibovitz’s L-15 basal medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum and 1% penicillin–streptomycin, while the MCF-10A, MCF-10DCIS, MCF-10Ca1h and MCF-10Ca1a cells were grown in DEME/F-12 medium supplemented with 5% Chelex-treated horse serum, 0.01 mg/ml human insulin, 20 ng/ml epidermal growth factor, 100 ng/ml cholera toxin and 500 ng/ml hydrocortisone.

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