T cell activation and its cytotoxic function are positively correlated with improved survival in breast cancer. tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs) have recently been found to be involved in gene regulation in cancer progression. However, it is unclear how interactions between expression of tRFs and T cell activation affect breast cancer patient survival. We used Kaplan–Meier survival and multivariate Cox regression models to evaluate the effect of interactions between expression of tRFs and T cell activation on survival in 1081 breast cancer patients. Spearman correlation analysis and weighted gene co-expression network analysis were conducted to identify genes and pathways that were associated with tRFs. tRFdb-5024a, 5P_tRNA-Leu-CAA-4-1, and ts-49 were positively associated with overall survival, while ts-34 and ts-58 were negatively associated with overall survival. Significant interactions were detected between T cell activation and ts-34 and ts-49. In the T cell exhaustion group, patients with a low level of ts-34 or a high level of ts-49 showed improved survival. In contrast, there was no significant difference in the activation group. Breast cancer related pathways were identified for the five tRFs. In conclusion, the identified five tRFs associated with overall survival may serve as therapeutic targets and improve immunotherapy in breast cancer.
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