The epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR TKIs), gefitinib and erlotinib, are reversible competitive inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR that bind to its adenosine-5′ triphosphate-binding site. Somatic activating mutations of the EGFR gene, increased gene copy number and certain clinical and pathological features have been associated with dramatic tumor responses and favorable clinical outcomes with these agents in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The specific types of activating mutations that confer sensitivity to EGFR TKIs are present in the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the EGFR gene. Exon 19 deletion mutations and the single-point substitution mutation L858R in exon 21 are the most frequent in NSCLC and are termed ‘classical’ mutations. The NSCLC tumors insensitive to EGFR TKIs include those driven by the KRAS and MET oncogenes. Most patients who initially respond to gefitinib and erlotinib eventually become resistant and experience progressive disease. The point mutation T790M accounts for about one half of these cases of acquired resistance. Various second-generation EGFR TKIs are currently being evaluated and may have the potential to overcome T790M-mediated resistance by virtue of their irreversible inhibition of the receptor TK domain.
epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; non-small-cell lung cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; tyrosine kinase
Abnormalities of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients consist of EGFR overexpression and EGFR (HER1) gene mutations. Structural dysfunction of the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR is associated with the clinical response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in patients with NSCLC. The most common EGFR gene mutations occur as either deletions in exon 19 or as substitution L858R in exon 21 and cause a clinically beneficial response to gefinitib or erlotinib treatment. Unfortunately, the majority of patients finally develop resistance to these drugs. Acquired resistance is linked to secondary mutations localised in the EGFR gene, mainly substitution T790M in exon 20. Through intense research a few different mechanisms of resistance to reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitors have been identified: amplification of MET or IGF-1R genes, abnormalities of PTEN and mTOR proteins as well as rare mutations in EGFR and HER2 genes. Extensively investigated new drugs could be of significant efficiency in NSCLC patients with secondary resistance to reversible EGFR TKI.
epidermal growth factor receptor; EGFR gene mutations; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; resistance mechanisms
Recent studies have established that amplification of the MET proto-oncogene can cause resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines with EGFR-activating mutations. The role of non-amplified MET in EGFR-dependent signaling before TKI resistance, however, is not well understood. Using NSCLC cell lines and transgenic models, we demonstrate here that EGFR activation by either mutation or ligand binding increases MET gene expression and protein levels. Our analysis of 202 NSCLC patient specimens was consistent with these observations: levels of MET were significantly higher in NSCLC with EGFR mutations than in NSCLC with wild-type EGFR. EGFR regulation of MET levels in cell lines occurred through the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α pathway in a hypoxia-independent manner. This regulation was lost, however, after MET gene amplification or overexpression of a constitutively active form of HIF-1α. EGFR- and hypoxia-induced invasiveness of NSCLC cells, but not cell survival, were found to be MET dependent. These findings establish that, absent MET amplification, EGFR signaling can regulate MET levels through HIF-1α and that MET is a key downstream mediator of EGFR-induced invasiveness in EGFR-dependent NSCLC cells.
EGFR; MET; non-small cell lung cancer; HIF-1α; invasiveness
Background: MET amplification has been detected in ∼20% of non-small-cell lung cancer patients (NSCLC) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations progressing after an initial response to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy.
Patients and methods: We analyzed MET gene copy number using FISH in two related NSCLC cell lines, one sensitive (HCC827) and one resistant (HCC827 GR6) to gefitinib therapy and in two different NSCLC patient populations: 24 never smokers or EGFR FISH-positive patients treated with gefitinib (ONCOBELL cohort) and 182 surgically resected NSCLC not exposed to anti-EGFR agents.
Results: HCC827 GR6-resistant cell line displayed MET amplification, with a mean MET copy number >12, while sensitive HCC827 cell line had a mean MET copy number of 4. In the ONCOBELL cohort, no patient had gene amplification and MET gene copy number was not associated with outcome to gefitinib therapy. Among the surgically resected patients, MET was amplified in 12 cases (7.3%) and only four (2.4%) had a higher MET copy number than the resistant HCC827 GR6 cell line.
Conclusions: MET gene amplification is a rare event in patients with advanced NSCLC. The development of anti-MET therapeutic strategies should be focused on patients with acquired EGFR-TKI resistance.
EGFR; gefitinib; MET; non-small cell lung cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have become a treatment option in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. However, despite their use in this disease, a significant number of patients will eventually develop resistance and relapse. In this study, we aimed to characterize several molecular events involved in potential resistance mechanisms to anti-EGFR treatment and correlate our findings with clinical outcome.
Material and methods
The medical records of patients with NSCLC who received anti-EGFR TKIs in any line within the participating centers were reviewed and available paraffin embedded tissue was retrieved. Mutational analysis for EGFR, KRAS, BRAF and intron-exon 14 deletions of MET; FISH analysis for chromosomal gain or amplification for EGFR, MET and the deletion marker D7S486 were performed. Furthermore, the expression of EGFR and MET were analysed by immunohistochemistry. All results were correlated with treatment outcomes.
Between 10/2001 and 12/2009 from an initial cohort of 72 treated patients, 59 cases (28 gefitinib/ 31 erlotinib) were included in the analysis. The majority had adenocarcinoma histology (68%), and received treatment in the second line setting (56%). Disease control rate (DCR) was 25.4% for all patients. EGFR and RAS mutational rates were 33% and 10% respectively, no other mutations were identified. High EGFR expressing tumors were found in 7 of 45 cases and pEGFR positivity (IHC) was found in 56% of the cases; MET expression was found in 48% of tumors. EGFR gene amplification was found in 4 cases, two cases showed high polysomy; overall, 13% cases were FISH positive for EGFR. High polysomy of MET gene was detected in 1/43 cases tested. D7S486 locus deletion was detected in 15/37 (40%) of cases. EGFR mutational status and gene gain were both associated with more favorable DCR. No other associations between examined biomarkers and DCR or survival were noted.
EGFR mutational status is a predictor for disease control in patients with NSCLC treated with anti-EGFR TKIs. The predictive role of several other molecules involved in potential resistance to anti-EGFR TKIs is worthy of additional investigation.
Predictive; Somatic mutation; EGFR; Gefitinib; Erlotinib; Response
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with L858R or exon 19 deletion mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have good responses to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), gefitinib. However, patients with wild-type EGFR and acquired mutation in EGFR T790M are resistant to gefitinib treatment. Here, we showed that curcumin can improve the efficiency of gefitinib in the resistant NSCLC cells both in vitro and in vivo models.
After screening 598 herbal and natural compounds, we found curcumin could inhibit cell proliferation in different gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cell lines; concentration-dependently down-regulate EGFR phosphorylation through promoting EGFR degradation in NSCLC cell lines with wild-type EGFR or T790M EGFR. In addition, the anti-tumor activity of gefitinib was potentiated via curcumin through blocking EGFR activation and inducing apoptosis in gefitinib-resistant NSCLC cell lines; also the combined treatment with curcumin and gefitinib exhibited significant inhibition in the CL1-5, A549 and H1975 xenografts tumor growth in SCID mice through reducing EGFR, c-MET, cyclin D1 expression, and inducing apoptosis activation through caspases-8, 9 and PARP. Interestingly, we observed that the combined treatment group represented better survival rate and less intestinal mucosal damage compare to gefitinib-alone therapy. We showed that curcumin attenuated the gefitinib-induced cell proliferation inhibition and apoptosis through altering p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation in intestinal epithelia cell.
Curcumin potentiates antitumor activity of gefitinib in cell lines and xenograft mice model of NSCLC through inhibition of proliferation, EGFR phosphorylation, and induction EGFR ubiquitination and apoptosis. In addition, curcumin attenuates gefitinib-induced gastrointestinal adverse effects via altering p38 activation. These findings provide a novel treatment strategy that curcumin as an adjuvant to increase the spectrum of the usage of gefitinib and overcome the gefitinib inefficiency in NSCLC patients.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and c-MET receptors are expressed on many non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Current single agent therapeutic targeting of a mutant EGFR has a high efficacy in the clinic, but is not curative. Here, we investigated the combination of targeting EGFR and c-MET pathways in NSCLC cells resistant to receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), using RNA interference and inhibition by TKIs. Different NSCLC cell lines with various genomic characteristics (H358, H1650 and H1975) were transfected with EGFR-specific-siRNA, T790M-specific-siRNA, c-MET siRNA or the combination. Subsequently EGFR TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib or afatinib) or monoclonal antibody cetuximab were combined respectively with the c-MET-specific TKI su11274 in NSCLC cell lines. The cell proliferation, viability, caspase−3/7 activity and apoptotic morphology were monitored by spectrophotometry, fluorimetry and fluorescence microscopy. The combined effect of EGFR TKIs, or cetuximab and su11274, was evaluated using a combination index. The results showed that the cell lines that were relatively resistant to EGFR TKIs, especially the H1975 cell line containing the resistance T790M mutation, were found to be more sensitive to EGFR-specific-siRNA. The combination of EGFR siRNA plus c-MET siRNA enhanced cell growth inhibition, apoptosis induction and inhibition of downstream signaling in EGFR TKI resistant H358, H1650 and H1975 cells, despite the absence of activity of the c-MET siRNA alone. EGFR TKIs or cetuximab plus su11274 were also consistently superior to either agent alone. The strongest biological effect was observed when afatinib, an irreversible pan-HER blocker was combined with su11274, which achieved a synergistic effect in the T790M mutant H1975 cells. In a conclusion, our findings offer preclinical proof of principle for combined inhibition as a promising treatment strategy for NSCLC, especially for patients in whom current EGFR-targeted treatments fail due to the presence of the T790M-EGFR-mutation or high c-MET expression.
Genetic aberrancies within epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway are associated with therapeutic outcomes of EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the impact of chemotherapy on EGFR-related genes alterations has not been defined in NSCLC. Our study aims to investigate the impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (Neoadj-Chemo) on EGFR activating mutations and associated EGFR-TKIs resistance-related genes.
Patients and Methods
Matched tumor samples were obtained retrospectively from 66 NSCLC patients (stages IIb–IIIb) corresponding to pre- and post- Neoadj-Chemo. EGFR mutations were detected by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) and confirmed by Amplification Refractory Mutation System technology (ARMS), KRAS mutations, T790M mutation and c-MET amplification were identified using Polymerase Chain Reaction-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (PCR-RFLP), ARMS, and real-time PCR, respectively.
Before Neoadj-Chemo, EGFR mutations were identified in 33.3% (22/66) of NSCLC patients. Only 18.2% (12/66) of patients carried EGFR mutations after Neoadj-Chemo (p = 0.013). The median peak value of EGFR 19 exon mutations decreased non-significantly after Neoadj-Chemo. KRAS mutation rate decreased from 4.6% (3/66) to 3.0% (2/66) with Neoadj-Chemo. Although the overall percentage of patients exhibiting c-MET amplifications (6.1% [4/66]) did not change with Neoadj-Chemo, two patients transitioned from negative to positive c-MET amplification, and two patients reversed these changes post-Neoadj-Chemo. T790M mutations were absent from all samples.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy tends to decrease the mutation frequency of EGFR mutation and downstream genes, which suggests that real-time samples analysis for genetic aberrancies within EGFR pathways have important value to delineate specific patient populations and facilitate individualized treatment.
The EGFR has been targeted through the development of selective tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that have proven effective in a subset of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, many bearing gain-of-function EGFR mutations or egfr gene amplification. However, the majority (~80–90%) of NSCLC patients do not respond to EGFR-specific TKIs and a high rate of acquired resistance to these therapeutics is observed in those that do respond. Thus, EGFR-specific TKIs will not, as single agents, make a high impact on overall lung cancer survival. A number of studies support the activities of other receptor tyrosine kinase pathways including cMet, IGF-1R and FGFRs as mechanisms for both intrinsic and acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs. While the role of cMet and IGF-1R signaling systems as mechanisms of resistance to EGFR TKIs has been widely reviewed in recent years, the potential role of FGFR-dependent signaling as a mechanism for EGFR TKI resistance has more recently emerged and will be highlighted herein. Due to the high degree of homology of FGFRs with VEGFRs and PDGFRs, FGFR-active TKIs already exist via development of VEGFR-targeted TKIs as angiogenesis inhibitors. Thus, these agents could be rapidly advanced into clinical investigations as FGFR inhibitors, either alone or in combination with TKIs selective for EGFR, cMet or IGF-1R as a means to expand the spectrum of NSCLC patients that can be effectively targeted with TKI-directed therapies.
FGF; FGFR; NSCLC; intrinsic resistance; receptor tyrosine kinase; tyrosine kinase inhibitors
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) gefitinib and erlotinib benefit some non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, but most do not respond (primary resistance) and those who initially respond eventually progress (acquired resistance). EGFR TKI resistance is not completely understood and has been associated with certain EGFR and K-RAS mutations and MET amplification.
We hypothesized that dual inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and EGFR pathways may overcome primary and acquired resistance. We investigated the VEGF receptor/EGFR TKI vandetanib, and the combination of bevacizumab and erlotinib in vivo using xenograft models of EGFR TKI sensitivity, primary resistance, and three models of acquired resistance, including models with mutated K-RAS and secondary EGFR T790M mutation.
Vandetanib, gefitinib, and erlotinib had similar profiles of in vitro activity and caused sustained tumor regressions in vivo in the sensitive HCC827 model. In all four resistant models, vandetanib and bevacizumab/erlotinib were significantly more effective than erlotinib or gefitinib alone. Erlotinib resistance was associated with a rise in both host and tumor-derived VEGF but not EGFR secondary mutations in the KRAS mutant-bearing A549 xenografts. Dual inhibition reduced tumor endothelial proliferation compared with VEGF or EGFR blockade alone, suggesting that the enhanced activity of dual inhibition is due at least in part to antiendothelial effects.
These studies suggest that erlotinib resistance may be associated with a rise in both tumor cell and host stromal VEGF and that combined blockade of the VEGFR and EGFR pathways can abrogate primary or acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs. This approach merits further evaluation in NSCLC patients.
Since the first description of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation as a distinct clinical entity, studies have proved EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) as a first choice of treatment. The median response duration of TKIs as a first-line treatment for EGFR mutant tumors ranges from 11 to 14 months. However, acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs is inevitable due to various mechanisms, such as T790M, c-Met amplification, activation of alternative pathways (IGF-1, HGF, PI3CA, AXL), transformation to mesenchymal cell or small cell features, and tumor heterogeneity. Until development of a successful treatment strategy to overcome such acquired resistance, few options are currently available. Here we provide a summary of the therapeutic options after failure of first line EGFR-TKI treatment for NSCLC.
EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Non-small-cell lung carcinoma; Drug resistance; Neoplasms
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are effective in most NSCLC patients whose tumors harbor activating EGFR kinase domain mutations. Unfortunately, acquired resistance eventually emerges in these chronically treated cancers. Two of the most common mechanisms of acquired resistance to TKIs seen clinically are the acquisition of a secondary “gatekeeper” T790M EGFR mutation that increases the affinity of mutant EGFR for ATP and activation of MET to offset the loss of EGFR signaling. Although up to one-third of patient tumors resistant to reversible EGFR TKIs harbor concurrent T790M mutation and MET amplification, potential therapies for these tumors have not been modeled in vivo. In this study, we developed a preclinical platform to evaluate potential therapies by generating transgenic mouse lung cancer models expressing EGFR-mutant Del19-T790M or L858R-T790M, each with concurrent MET overexpression. We found that monotherapy targeting EGFR or MET alone did not produce significant tumor regression. In contrast, combination therapies targeting EGFR and MET simultaneously were highly efficacious against EGFR TKI resistant tumors co-driven by Del19-T790M or L858R-T790M and MET. Our findings therefore provide an in vivo model of intrinsic resistance to reversible TKIs and offer preclinical proof of principle that combination targeting of EGFR and MET may benefit patients with NSCLC.
Most advanced non–small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations (exon 19 deletions or L858R) initially respond to the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib and erlotinib. However, over time (median of 6−12 months), most tumors develop acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs. Intense research in these NSCLCs has identified two major mechanisms of resistance to gefitinib/erlotinib: secondary resistance mutations and “oncogene kinase switch” systems. The secondary T790M mutation occurs in 50% of EGFR-mutated patients with TKI resistance, and in vitro, this mutation negates the hypersensitivity of activating EGFR mutations. Sensitive detection methods have identified a proportion of TKI-naive tumors that carry T790M, and these resistant clones may be selected after exposure to gefitinib or erlotinib. Other secondary resistance mutations (D761Y, L747S, T854A) seem to be rare. The amplification of the MET oncogene is present in 20% of TKI-resistant tumors; however, in half of the cases with this “oncogene kinase switch” mechanism the T790M is coexistent. It is possible that other kinases (such as insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor [IGF-1R]) might also be selected to bypass EGFR pathways in resistant tumors. The growing preclinical data in EGFR-mutated NSCLCs with acquired resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib has spawned the initiation or conception of clinical trials testing novel EGFR inhibitors that in vitro inhibit T790M (neratinib, XL647, BIBW 2992, and PF-00299804), MET, or IGF-1R inhibitors in combination with EGFR TKIs, and heat shock protein 90 inhibitors. Ongoing preclinical and clinical research in EGFR-mutated NSCLC has the potential to significantly improve the outcomes of patients with these somatic mutations.
BIBW 2992; D761Y; Gefitinib; ErbB3; Erlotinib; HKI-272; L747S; MET; PF-00299804; T790M; XL647
Activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations are recognized biomarkers for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). EGFR TKIs can also have activity against NSCLC without EGFR mutations, requiring the identification of additional relevant biomarkers. Previous studies on tumor EGFR protein levels and EGFR gene copy number revealed inconsistent results. The aim of the study was to identify novel biomarkers of the response to TKIs in NSCLC by investigating whole genome expression at the exon-level. We used exon arrays and clinical samples from a previous trial (SAKK19/05) to investigate the expression variations at the exon-level of 3 genes potentially playing a key role in modulating treatment response: EGFR, V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA). We identified the expression of EGFR exon 18 as a new predictive marker for patients with untreated metastatic NSCLC treated with bevacizumab and erlotinib in the first line setting. The overexpression of EGFR exon 18 in tumor was significantly associated with tumor shrinkage, independently of EGFR mutation status. A similar significant association could be found in blood samples. In conclusion, exonic EGFR expression particularly in exon 18 was found to be a relevant predictive biomarker for response to bevacizumab and erlotinib. Based on these results, we propose a new model of EGFR testing in tumor and blood.
Clinical resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition in lung cancer has been linked to the emergence of the EGFR T790M resistance mutation or amplification of MET. Additional mechanisms contributing to EGFR inhibitor resistance remain elusive. By applying combined analyses of gene expression, copy number, and biochemical analyses of EGFR inhibitor responsiveness, we identified homozygous loss of PTEN to segregate EGFR-dependent and EGFR-independent cells. We show that in EGFR-dependent cells, PTEN loss partially uncouples mutant EGFR from downstream signaling and activates EGFR, thereby contributing to erlotinib resistance. The clinical relevance of our findings is supported by the observation of PTEN loss in 1 out of 24 primary EGFR-mutant non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. These results suggest a novel resistance mechanism in EGFR-mutant NSCLC involving PTEN loss.
Deregulation of EGFR signaling is common in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and this finding led to the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are highly effective in a subset of NSCLC. Mutations of EGFR (mEGFR) and copy number gains (CNGs) of EGFR (gEGFR) and HER2 (gHER2) have been reported to predict for TKI response. Mutations in KRAS (mKRAS) are associated with primary resistance to TKIs.
We investigated the relationship between mutations, CNGs and response to TKIs in a large panel of NSCLC cell lines. Genes studied were EGFR, HER2, HER3 HER4, KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA. Mutations were detected by sequencing, while CNGs were determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). IC50 values for the TKIs gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) were determined by MTS assay. For any of the seven genes tested, mutations (39/77, 50.6%), copy number gains (50/77, 64.9%) or either (65/77, 84.4%) were frequent in NSCLC lines. Mutations of EGFR (13%) and KRAS (24.7%) were frequent, while they were less frequent for the other genes. The three techniques for determining CNG were well correlated, and qPCR data were used for further analyses. CNGs were relatively frequent for EGFR and KRAS in adenocarcinomas. While mutations were largely mutually exclusive, CNGs were not. EGFR and KRAS mutant lines frequently demonstrated mutant allele specific imbalance i.e. the mutant form was usually in great excess compared to the wild type form. On a molar basis, sensitivity to gefitinib and erlotinib were highly correlated. Multivariate analyses led to the following results:
1. mEGFR and gEGFR and gHER2 were independent factors related to gefitinib sensitivity, in descending order of importance.
2. mKRAS was associated with increased in vitro resistance to gefitinib.
Our in vitro studies confirm and extend clinical observations and demonstrate the relative importance of both EGFR mutations and CNGs and HER2 CNGs in the sensitivity to TKIs.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have shown clinical efficacy in lung, colon, and pancreatic cancers. In lung cancer, resistance to EGFR TKIs correlates with amplification of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor tyrosine kinase Met. Breast cancers do not respond to EGFR TKIs, even though EGFR is overexpressed. This intrinsic resistance to EGFR TKIs in breast cancer does not correlate with Met amplification. In several tissue monoculture models of human breast cancer, Met, although expressed, is not phosphorylated, suggesting a requirement for a paracrine-produced ligand. In fact, HGF, the ligand for Met, is not expressed in epithelial cells but is secreted by fibroblasts in the tumor stroma. We have identified a number of breast cancer cell lines that are sensitive to EGFR TKIs. This sensitivity is in conflict with the observed clinical resistance to EGFR TKIs in breast cancers. Here we demonstrate that fibroblast secretion of HGF activates Met and leads to EGFR/Met crosstalk and resistance to EGFR TKIs in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).
The SUM102 and SUM149 TNBC cell lines were used in this study. Recombinant HGF as well as conditioned media from fibroblasts expressing HGF were used as sources for Met activation. Furthermore, we co-cultured HGF-secreting fibroblasts with Met-expressing cancer cells to mimic the paracrine HGF/Met pathway, which is active in the tumor microenvironment. Cell growth, survival, and transformation were measured by cell counting, clonogenic and MTS assays, and soft agar colony formation, respectively. Student's t test was used for all statistical analysis.
Here we demonstrate that treatment of breast cancer cells sensitive to EGFR TKIs with recombinant HGF confers a resistance to EGFR TKIs. Interestingly, knocking down EGFR abrogated HGF-mediated cell survival, suggesting a crosstalk between EGFR and Met. HGF is secreted as a single-chain pro-form, which has to be proteolytically cleaved in order to activate Met. To determine whether the proteases required to activate pro-HGF were present in the breast cancer cells, we utilized a fibroblast cell line expressing pro-HGF (RMF-HGF). Addition of pro-HGF-secreting conditioned fibroblast media to TNBC cells as well as co-culturing of TNBC cells with RMF-HGF fibroblasts resulted in robust phosphorylation of Met and stimulated proliferation in the presence of an EGFR TKI.
Taken together, these data suggest a role for Met in clinical resistance to EGFR TKIs in breast cancer through EGFR/Met crosstalk mediated by tumor-stromal interactions.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in the majority of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and is a major target for new therapies. Specific EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been developed and used for the treatment of advanced NSCLC. The clinical response, however, varies dramatically among different patient cohorts. Females, East Asians, non-smokers, and patients with adenocarcinoma usually show higher response rates. Meanwhile, a number of biological factors are also associated with EGFR-TKIs responsiveness. In order to better understand the predictive value of these biomarkers and their significance in clinical application we prepared this brief review. Here we mainly focused on EGFR somatic mutations, MET amplification, K-ras mutations, EGFRvIII mutation, EGFR gene dosage and expression, HER2 gene dosage and expression, and Akt phosphorylation. We think EGFR somatic mutation probably is the most effective molecular predictor for EGFR-TKIs responsiveness and efficacy. Mutation screening test can provide the most direct and valuable guidance for clinicians to make decision on EGFR-TKIs therapy.
non-small cell lung cancer; EGFR; somatic mutation; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; gene amplification
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a validated therapeutic target in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, current single agent receptor targeting does not achieve a maximal therapeutic effect, and some mutations confer resistance to current available agents. In the current study we have examined, in different NSCLC cell lines, the combined effect of RNA interference targeting the EGFR mRNA, and inactivation of EGFR signaling using different receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) or a monoclonal antibody cetuximab.
NSCLC cells (cell lines HCC827, H292, H358, H1650, and H1975) were transfected with EGFR siRNA and/or treated with the TKIs gefitinib, erlotinib, and afatinib, and/or with the monoclonal antibody cetuximab. The reduction of EGFR mRNA expression was measured by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. The down-regulation of EGFR protein expression was measured by western blot, and the proliferation, viability, caspase3/7 activity, and apoptotic morphology were monitored by spectrophotometry, fluorimetry, and fluorescence microscopy. The combined effect of EGFR siRNA and different drugs was evaluated using a combination index.
EGFR-specific siRNA strongly inhibited EGFR protein expression almost equally in all cell lines and inhibited cell growth and induced cell apoptosis in all NSCLC cell lines studied, albeit with a different magnitude. The effects on growth obtained with siRNA was strikingly different from the effects obtained with TKIs. The effects of siRNA probably correlate with the overall oncogenic significance of the receptor, which is only partly inhibited by the TKIs. The cells which showed weak response to TKIs, such as the H1975 cell line containing the T790M resistance mutation, were found to be responsive to siRNA knockdown of EGFR, as were cell lines with downstream TKI resistance mutations. The cell line HCC827, harboring an exon 19 deletion mutation, was more than 10-fold more sensitive to TKI proliferation inhibition and apoptosis induction than any of the other cell lines. Cetuximab alone had no relevant in vitro activity at concentrations obtainable in the clinic. The addition of EGFR siRNA to either TKIs or cetuximab additively enhanced growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis in all five cell lines, independent of the EGFR mutation status (wild-type or sensitizing mutation or resistant mutation). The strongest biological effect was observed when afatinib was combined with an EGFR-specific siRNA.
EGFR knockdown by siRNA further decreases the cell growth of lung cancer cells that are treated with TKIs or cetuximab alone, confirming that single agent drug targeting does not achieve a maximal biological effect. The siRNA inhibits EGFR oncogenic activity that bypasses downstream "resistance" mutations such as KRAS and PTEN. The combined treatment of siRNA and EGFR inhibitory agents is additive. The combination of a potent, irreversible kinase inhibitor such as afatinib, with EGFR-specific siRNAs should be further investigated as a new strategy in the treatment of lung cancer and other EGFR dependent cancers, including those with downstream resistance mutations.
EGFR; RNA interference; tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs); anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies (mAbs); proliferation; apoptosis; lung cancer
This study was designed to determine whether advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with high copy number of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) can benefit from treatment with EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).
EGFR gene copy number was assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and EGFR mutations was tested using Luminex xTAG technology in 502 TKI-treated NSCLC patients. The association between both biomarkers and clinical benefit from EGFR-TKI were analyzed.
EGFR FISH + and EGFR mutations were significantly associated with higher response rates (37.2% and 43.7%, respectively), superior progression-free survival (PFS) (FISH+, 11.2 months; hazard ratio [HR], 0.51; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.62; p < 0.001; mutation+, 11.7 months; HR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.31 to 0.45; p < 0.001) and overall survival (OS) (FISH+, 30.2 months; HR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.40 to 0.65; p < 0.001; mutation+, 30.2 months; HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.58; p < 0.001). In patients with wild-type EGFR, EGFR FISH + correlated with longer PFS than EGFR FISH- status (4.4 months vs. 2.0 months; HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.75; p < 0.001), so did amplification (5.0 months vs. 2.0 months; HR, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.24 to 0.76; p = 0.003). However, FISH + had no association with improved PFS in EGFR-mutated patients (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.57 to 1.03; p = 0.076).
A combined analysis of EGFR FISH and mutation is an effective predictor of EGFR-TKI therapy. Specifically, a high EGFR copy number may predict benefit from TKIs treatment for NSCLC patients with wild-type EGFR.
EGFR; Mutation; Copy number; Lung cancer
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations and increased copy numbers are considered as predictors of response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Lung cancer diagnosis is often based on cytology alone. However, almost all published data on EGFR gene analyses were obtained from biopsies. This study tested the feasibility of EGFR gene analyses on cytological specimens. Eighty-four cytological specimens from NSCLCs were prospectively analysed for EGFR gene mutation in exons 18–21 and EGFR gene copy numbers were evaluated by fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH). A FISH-positive result was defined according to the criteria by Cappuzzo et al established for biopsies of NSCLCs. Fluorescence in situ hybridisation results of cytological specimens were compared to the FISH results on matching biopsies (n=33). Initial diagnosis of NSCLC was solely based on cytology in 37 out of 84 (44.0%) patients. Out of 80 NSCLCs, 6 (7.5%) showed EGFR gene mutations. Out of 67 cancers, 45 (67.2%) were FISH positive on cytological specimens. Comparison of FISH showed a FISH-positive result in 21 out of 33 (63.6%) cytological specimens but in only 8 out of 33 (24.2%) matched biopsies. Epidermal growth factor receptor gene analyses are well applicable to cytological specimens. The high FISH-positive rate of NSCLC on cytological specimens contrasts with the low rate on biopsies when previously suggested criteria are used. New criteria for a positive EGFR FISH status to predict response to therapy with EGFR-TKI need to be defined for cytological specimens.
non-small-cell lung cancer; EGFR; mutation; FISH; cytology
Most lung cancers with activating epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations respond to gefitinib, however resistance to this tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) invariably ensues. The T790M mutation occurs in 50% and MET amplification in 20% of TKI-resistant tumors. Other secondary mutations (D761Y, L747S) are rare. Our goal was to determine the effects of erlotinib 150mg/day in EGFR mutated patients resistant to gefitinib 250mg/day, since the EGFR TKI erlotinib is given at a higher biologically active dose than gefitinib.
Retrospective review of 18 EGFR mutated (exon 19 deletions, L858R, L861Q) patients that were given gefitinib and subsequently erlotinib. 7 patients had tumor re-sampling after TKI therapy, and were analyzed for secondary EGFR mutations and MET amplification.
Most patients (14/18) responded to gefitinib with median progression-free survival (PFS) of 11 months (95%CI,4-16). After gefitinib resistance (de novo or acquired), 78% (14/18) of these patients displayed progressive disease while on erlotinib with PFS of 2 months (95%CI,2-3). 6/7 re-sampled patients acquired the T790M mutation, and 0/3 had MET amplification. Only 1 gefitinib-resistant patient with the acquired L858R-L747S EGFR, which in vitro is sensitive to achievable serum concentrations of erlotinib 150mg/day, achieved a partial response to erlotinib.
In EGFR mutated tumors resistant to gefitinib 250mg/day, a switch to erlotinib 150mg/day does not lead to responses in most patients. These findings are consistent with pre-clinical models, since the common mechanisms of TKI-resistance (T790M and MET amplification) in vitro are not inhibited by clinically achievable doses of gefitinib or erlotinib. Alternative strategies to overcome TKI resistance must be evaluated.
Epidermal growth factor receptor; EGFR; mutation; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; gefitinib; erlotinib; L858R; exon 19 deletions; T790M; lung cancer; non-small cell lung cancer
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as gefitinib and erlotinib are promising therapies for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with somatic activating mutations in the EGFR gene have dramatic response initially, but would eventually develop resistance to these TKIs. Subsequent studies found that a secondary mutation in the EGFR gene (T790M mutation) and amplification of the MET proto-oncogene could be the main resistance mechanisms involved. The current review is focused on T790M, which is thought to cause steric hindrance and impair the binding of gefitinib/erlotinib. The T790M is present as a minor allele before TKI therapy and accounts for about half of the acquired resistant cases. Conflicting results were reported for gefitinib-resistant, T790M-acquired patients who had switched to erlotinib treatment, which was proposed to be efficacious. The switch therapy was presumed to work for EGFR wild type patients and previously gefitinib responding patients. MET amplification accounts for about 20% of TKI acquired-resistant patients by a different molecular pathway from T790M; some of these patients will also concurrently have T790M mutation and might still not respond to irreversible TKI. As for the detection of T790M, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), especially mutant-enriched PCR was found to be more sensitive than direct DNA sequencing. In addition, whole genome amplification might also be useful and can be incorporated with future noninvasive method for detecting T790M. A better understanding of the mechanisms leading to TKI resistance is crucial in the development of effective treatment and the design of future clinical studies.
T790M; lung cancer; acquired resistance; TKI
Lung cancers harboring mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) respond to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors, but drug resistance invariably emerges. To elucidate mechanisms of acquired drug resistance, we performed systematic genetic and histological analyses of tumor biopsies from 37 patients with drug-resistant non–small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) carrying EGFR mutations. All drug-resistant tumors retained their original activating EGFR mutations, and some acquired known mechanisms of resistance including the EGFR T790M mutation or MET gene amplification. Some resistant cancers showed unexpected genetic changes including EGFR amplification and mutations in the PIK3CA gene, whereas others underwent a pronounced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Surprisingly, five resistant tumors (14%) transformed from NSCLC into small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and were sensitive to standard SCLC treatments. In three patients, serial biopsies revealed that genetic mechanisms of resistance were lost in the absence of the continued selective pressure of EGFR inhibitor treatment, and such cancers were sensitive to a second round of treatment with EGFR inhibitors. Collectively, these results deepen our understanding of resistance to EGFR inhibitors and underscore the importance of repeatedly assessing cancers throughout the course of the disease.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) predict better outcome to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). The most common mutations are exon 19 deletions (most frequently E746-A750) and L858R point mutation in exon 21. Here, we evaluated the accuracy of novel EGFR mutation specific antibodies in a Japanese cohort with NSCLC and compared to direct DNA sequencing and clinical outcome.
Materials and methods
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) using antibodies specific for the E746-A750 and L858R mutations in EGFR was performed on tissue microarrays of tumors from 70 gefitinib treated NSCLC patients. Extracted DNA was sequenced for mutational analysis of EGFR exons 18 to 21.
DNA sequencing showed EGFR mutations in 41 patients (58.6%), and exon 19 deletions in 18 patients (25.7%), 61% (11/18) had a deletion in the range of E746-A750) and 12 (17.1%) had exon 21 mutations (L858R). IHC showed, for the E746-A750 and L858R mutations, sensitivity (81.8% and 75%), specificity (100%, 96.6%), PPV (100%, 81.8%) and NPV (96.7%, 94.9%). Analysis for objective response rates (ORR) and survival were not correlated to IHC staining, although the combined staining showed non-significant trends towards better overall survival for patients with EGFR mutations.
The mutation specific IHC antibodies have high sensitivity and specificity for pre-defined EFGR mutations and may be suitable for screening for these pre-defined mutations. However, negative IHC results require further mutation analyses prior to excluding EGFR-targeted therapy.
EGFR; Biomarkers; Lung Cancer; NSCLC; Mutation