Background: The association between Killer cell lectin like receptor B1 (KLRB1) and cancer has been reported, but the roles of KLRB1 in breast invasive carcinoma (BRCA) has not been fully revealed.

Methods: Our study utilized the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), Kaplan-Meier (K-M) Plotter, and TIMER databases to investigate the expression and clinical relevance of KLRB1 in BRCA and to explore its roles and mechanism in BRCA progression using gene set enrichment analysis, CCK-8, migration, apoptosis, and western blotting. We examined the relationship between KLRB1 expression and the BRCA immune microenvironment, using data from TCGA, and Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA) databases and validated these findings in K-M Plotter databases.

Results: A significant decrease of KLRB1 expression was observed in BRCA patients. BRCA patients with low KLRB1 levels were associated with older age, advanced disease stage, HER2-positivity, poor prognosis, and a decreased survival probability compared to the high-expression group. Increased KLRB1 expression levels were correlated with inhibition of breast cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion, as well as promotion of cell apoptosis, possible through regulation of the NF-κB, PI3K/AKT, and TNF signaling pathways. Moreover, the study also indicated that decreased KLRB1 expression correlated with tumor purity, immune score, and immune cell infiltration (B cells, CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, neutrophils, dendritic cells, among others), cell markers, and immunotherapy.

Conclusion: Decreased KLRB1 expression in BRCA is associated with poor prognosis and immune microenvironment. This study also highlights KLRB1 as a potential molecular marker for poor prognosis in BRCA patients, and therefore, it may provide clinical implications for the management of patients with BRCA.