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1.  EGFR mutation: Significance as a stratification factor in the era of molecular-targeted therapy 
Oncology Letters  2011;2(2):383-387.
Somatic mutations of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are the strongest predictive markers for the response to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Patients with EGFR mutations generally receive EGFR-TKI treatment, and their survival has been significantly improved compared with that before the development of EGFR-TKIs. This study aimed to clarify the impact of EGFR mutational status on the survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving cytotoxic agents, but not EGFR-TKIs, as their first-line chemotherapy. In addition, we analyzed patients with EGFR mutations to determine whether the timing of EGFR-TKI administration affects overall survival (OS). A total of 83 NSCLC patients with stage IIIB/IV who received chemotherapy alone and whose EGFR mutational status was known were investigated. Univariate and multivariate analysis for OS was performed using parameters such as age, gender, performance status (PS), histology, disease stage, smoking status, EGFR mutational status and administration of a first-line regimen. Among the 52 patients with EGFR mutations who received EGFR-TKIs, OS between those who received EGFR-TKIs as their first-line treatment and after chemotherapy were similar. Among the 83 patients who received cytotoxic agents as their first-line chemotherapy, the multivariate analysis showed OS to be significantly associated with PS (p<0.001), histology (p=0.039) and EGFR mutational status (p=0.040). OS was almost similar among the 52 patients with EGFR mutations who received EGFR-TKIs in a first- and second-line setting (25.6 vs. 26.8 months, p=0.914). The EGFR mutational status had a significant impact on the survival of NSCLC patients, although these patients did not receive EGFR-TKIs as their first-line chemotherapy. In future randomized trials, even when EGFR-TKIs are not included in experimental regimens, patients may need to be stratified by EGFR mutational status in order that study results be evaluated appropriately.
PMCID: PMC3410597  PMID: 22866092
non-small cell lung cancer; chemotherapy; epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; stratification factor
2.  BRIEF REPORT: Compound EGFR mutations and response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors 
Non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) containing epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations are exquisitely sensitive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). This is the case of the most common EGFR mutations affecting exon 18 (G719X), 19 (inframe deletions) and 21 (L858R and L861Q). However, the frequency of compound (i.e., double or complex) EGFR mutations - where an EGFR TKI sensitizing or other mutation is identified together with a mutation of unknown clinical significance – and their pattern of response/resistance to EGFR TKIs are less well described.
We analyzed the EGFR mutation pattern of 79 cases of NSCLC harboring EGFR mutations, and compiled the genotype-response data for patients with NSCLCs with compound EGFR mutations treated with EGFR TKIs.
Out of the 79 EGFR mutated tumors identified, 11 (14%) had compound mutations. Most involved the EGFR TKI-sensitizing G719X (n=3, plus S768I or E709A), L858R (n=4, plus L747V, R776H, T790M or A871G), L861Q (n=1, plus E709V) and delL747_T751 (n=1, plus R776H). 8 patients received an EGFR TKI: 3 cases with G719X plus another mutation had partial responses (PR) to erlotinib; out of 3 cases with L858R plus another mutation, 2 displayed PRs and 1 (with EGFR-L858R+A871G) progressive disease to erlotinib; 1 NSCLC with EGFR-L861Q+E709A and 1 with delL747_T51+R776S had PRs to EGFR TKIs.
Compound EGFR mutations comprised 14% of all mutations identified during routine sequencing of exons 18–21 of EGFR in our cohort. Most patients with an EGFR TKI sensitizing mutation (G719X, exon 19 deletion, L858R and L861Q) in addition to an atypical mutation responded to EGFR TKIs. Reporting of the genotype-response pattern of NSCLCs with EGFR compound and other rare mutations, and the addition of this information to searchable databases will be helpful to select the appropriate therapy for EGFR mutated NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3531043  PMID: 23242437
lung cancer; non-small-cell lung cancer; EGFR; EGFR mutation; erlotinib; gefitinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; L858R; L861Q; G719X; exon 19 deletion: compound; double; complex
3.  Can EGFR-TKIs be used in first line treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer based on selection according to clinical factors ? -- A literature-based meta-analysis 
In the first line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), several clinical trials have shown that not all NSCLC patients can benefit from treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) than receiving chemotherapy. Some trials treated patients with TKI according to their clinical characteristics. A few studies only chose patients with an epidermal grouth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation for TKI therapy. We aimed to determine whether patients could be treated with TKIs based on clinical factors in the first-line setting.
We performed a meta-analysis of randomized trials involving patients with advanced NSCLC treated with chemotherapy or TKIs by different selections. Efficacy outcomes of interest were the objective response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and the overall survival (OS) of each treatment arm.
Four trials enrolled unselected patients, and two trials selected East Asian patients using the clinical factors of gender and smoking history. Five trials chose patients with an EGFR mutation who were randomized for treatment with TKI or chemotherapy. For unselected patients, the risk ratio (RR) of the ORR was 3.52, the hazard ratio (HR) of the PFS was 1.29 and the HR of the OS was 1.35. For the clinically selected patients, the RR of the ORR was 0.64. The HRs of the PFS and OS were 0.83 and 0.92, respectively. The ORR and PFS were better for TKIs than for chemotherapy in patients with an EGFR mutation. The ORR was 0.47, and the HRs of the PFS and OS were 0.36 and 1.00, respectively.
Advanced NSCLC patients with an EGFR mutation benefit most from TKIs. EGFR-TKI treatment is justified for patients with unknown EGFR status,and those who cannot tolerate chemotherapy owing to age, poor performance status (PS) or other medical conditions, when selected according to clinical factors in the first-line setting.
PMCID: PMC3507915  PMID: 23050865
Non-small cell lung cancer; Target therapy; Chemotherapy; Meta-analysis
4.  Novel EGFR mutation specific antibodies for NSCLC: Immunohistochemistry as a possible screening method for EGFR mutations 
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.
PMCID: PMC2946481  PMID: 20697298
EGFR; Biomarkers; Lung Cancer; NSCLC; Mutation
5.  Comparison of KRAS and EGFR gene status between primary non-small cell lung cancer and local lymph node metastases: implications for clinical practice 
Epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI) have been widely used for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). KRAS and EGFR somatic mutations in NSCLC may predict resistance and responsiveness to TKI, respectively. Nevertheless, most research to date has been conducted on samples from primary tumors. For many patients with advanced disease, their samples can only be obtained from metastases for test. The molecular characteristics of metastasized tumors may be different from those of primary tumors.
Materials and methods
Mutation status of KRAS and EGFR between primary tumors and local lymph node metastases of 80 Chinese patients with NSCLC were analyzed by direct sequencing. Five of them were given gefitinib as neoadjunvant treatment after the EGFR-TKI sensitive mutations were detected in their biopsies of mediastinal lymph nodes metastases. McNemar's test was used to compare the EGFR and KRAS mutation status between primary tumors and corresponding local lymph node metastases. Data evaluation was carried out with SPSS_13.0 statistical software.
Among the 160 samples, one primary tumor and seven metastases were identified with KRAS mutations and 21 primary tumors and 26 metastases were found to have EGFR mutations. KRAS and EGFR mutation status was different between primary tumors and corresponding metastases in 6 (7.5%) and 7 (8.75%) patients, respectively. One patient with no TKI sensitive mutations detected in the primary tumor showed disease progression.
Our results suggest that a considerable proportion of NSCLC in Chinese population showed discrepancy in KRAS and EGFR mutation status between primary tumors and corresponding metastases. This observation may have important implication for the use of targeted TKI therapy in the treatment of NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3069944  PMID: 21414214
6.  CRIPTO1 expression in EGFR-mutant NSCLC elicits intrinsic EGFR-inhibitor resistance 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(7):3003-3015.
The majority of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients harbor EGFR-activating mutations that can be therapeutically targeted by EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKI), such as erlotinib and gefitinib. Unfortunately, a subset of patients with EGFR mutations are refractory to EGFR-TKIs. Resistance to EGFR inhibitors reportedly involves SRC activation and induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Here, we have demonstrated that overexpression of CRIPTO1, an EGF-CFC protein family member, renders EGFR-TKI–sensitive and EGFR-mutated NSCLC cells resistant to erlotinib in culture and in murine xenograft models. Furthermore, tumors from NSCLC patients with EGFR-activating mutations that were intrinsically resistant to EGFR-TKIs expressed higher levels of CRIPTO1 compared with tumors from patients that were sensitive to EGFR-TKIs. Primary NSCLC cells derived from a patient with EGFR-mutated NSCLC that was intrinsically erlotinib resistant were CRIPTO1 positive, but gained erlotinib sensitivity upon loss of CRIPTO1 expression during culture. CRIPTO1 activated SRC and ZEB1 to promote EMT via microRNA-205 (miR-205) downregulation. While miR-205 depletion induced erlotinib resistance, miR-205 overexpression inhibited CRIPTO1-dependent ZEB1 and SRC activation, restoring erlotinib sensitivity. CRIPTO1-induced erlotinib resistance was directly mediated through SRC but not ZEB1; therefore, cotargeting EGFR and SRC synergistically attenuated growth of erlotinib-resistant, CRIPTO1-positive, EGFR-mutated NSCLC cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that this combination may overcome intrinsic EGFR-inhibitor resistance in patients with CRIPTO1-positive, EGFR-mutated NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC4071378  PMID: 24911146
7.  The emerging role of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors in first-line treatment for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer positive for EGFR mutations 
Gefitinib and erlotinib, small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), were the first molecularly targeted agents to become clinically available for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). During the course of their clinical development, it has become clear that the substantial clinical benefit associated with EGFR-TKIs is limited to patients harboring activating mutations of EGFR. Accumulating clinical outcomes in patients with EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC treated with EGFR-TKIs support the notion that this group of individuals constitutes a clinically distinct population. These findings have prompted investigations of the potential role of first-line treatment with EGFR-TKIs in molecularly selected patients, with platinum-based doublet chemotherapy currently being the standard of care for most individuals with advanced NSCLC. This review summarizes the results of recent clinical trials of EGFR-TKIs in selected patients and highlights the efficacy of these drugs in first-line treatment as a form of personalized medicine aimed at improving therapy for advanced NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3126025  PMID: 21789142
epidermal growth factor receptor mutation; first-line treatment; non-small cell lung cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
8.  EGFR Polymorphism as a Predictor of Clinical Outcome in Advanced Lung Cancer Patients Treated with EGFR-TKI 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2012;53(6):1128-1135.
Mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) have been confirmed as predictors of the efficacy of treatment with EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We investigated whether polymorphisms of the EGFR gene were associated with clinical outcomes in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with EGFR-TKI.
Materials and Methods
A polymorphic dinucleotide repeat in intron 1 [CA simple sequence repeat in intron 1(CA-SSR1)] in intron 1 and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP-216) in the promoter region of the EGFR gene were evaluated in 71 NSCLC patients by restriction fragment length polymorphism and DNA sequencing. The relationship between genetic polymorphisms and clinical outcomes of treatment with EGFR-TKIs was evaluated.
SNP-216G/T polymorphisms were associated with the efficacy of EGFR-TKI. The response rate for the SNP-216G/T tended to be higher than that for G/G (62.5% vs. 27.4%, p=0.057). The SNP-216G/T genotype was also associated with longer progression-free survival compared with the GG genotype (16.7 months vs. 5.1 months, p=0.005). However, the length of CA-SSR1 was not associated with the efficacy of EGFR-TKI.
SNP-216G/T polymorphism was a potential predictor of clinical outcomes in NSCLC patients treated with EGFR-TKI.
PMCID: PMC3481391  PMID: 23074112
Polymorphism; lung cancer; EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor
9.  Afatinib: emerging next-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor for NSCLC 
OncoTargets and therapy  2013;6:135-143.
The discovery of epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR)-activating mutations and the introduction of oral EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs) have expanded the treatment options for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The first two reversible EGFR-TKIs, erlotinib and gefitinib, are approved for use in the first-line setting in patients with known EGFR-activating mutations and in the second- and third-line settings for all NSCLC patients. These first-generation EGFR-TKIs improve progression-free survival when compared to chemotherapy in patients with EGFR-activating mutations in the first-line setting. However, nearly all patients develop resistance to EGFR-directed agents. There is a need for further therapy options for patients with disease progression after treatment with reversible EGFR-TKIs. Afatinib is an irreversible ErbB family blocker that inhibits EGFR, HER2, and HER4. In vitro and in vivo, afatinib have shown increased inhibition of the common EGFR-activating mutations as well as the T790M resistance mutation when compared to erlotinib and gefitinib. Clinically, afatinib has been evaluated in the LUX-Lung series of trials, with improvement in progression-free survival reported in patients with EGFR-activating mutations in both first- and second-/third-line settings when compared to chemotherapy. Further investigation is needed to determine the precise role that afatinib will play in the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer and EGFR-activating mutations.
PMCID: PMC3594037  PMID: 23493883
afatinib; EGFR; irreversible EGFR inhibitor; EGPR-TKIs; LUX lung; resistance mutation; targeted therapy
10.  Alterations in EGFR and Related Genes following Neo-Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Chinese Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e51021.
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.
PMCID: PMC3592850  PMID: 23520442
11.  The Role of Irreversible HER Family Inhibition in the Treatment of Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
The Oncologist  2011;16(11):1498-1507.
The clinical development of irreversible tyrosine kinase inhibitors that target the human epidermal growth factor receptor family in non-small cell lung cancer is reviewed.
Small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) include the reversible epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/HER-1) inhibitors gefitinib and erlotinib. EGFR TKIs have demonstrated activity in the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring activating EGFR mutations; however, multiple mechanisms of resistance limit the benefit of these drugs. Although resistance to EGFR TKIs can be intrinsic and correlated with molecular lesions such as in Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS; generally observed in a wild-type EGFR background), acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs can evolve in the setting of activating EGFR mutations, such as in the case of EGFR T790M mutations. Several irreversible inhibitors that target multiple members of the HER family simultaneously are currently in clinical development for NSCLC and may have a role in the treatment of TKI-sensitive and TKI-resistant disease. These include PF00299804, an inhibitor of EGFR/HER-1, HER-2, and HER-4, and afatinib (BIBW 2992), an inhibitor of EGFR/HER-1, HER-2, and HER-4. Results of large, randomized trials of these agents may help to determine their potential for the treatment of NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3233283  PMID: 22016476
Irreversible EGFR/HER-2 tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Non-small cell lung cancer; Resistance; Afatinib (BIBW 2992); PF00299804
12.  Activating and resistance mutations of EGFR in non-small-cell lung cancer: role in clinical response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors 
Oncogene  2009;28(Suppl 1):S24-S31.
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.
PMCID: PMC2849651  PMID: 19680293
epidermal growth factor receptor; mutation; non-small-cell lung cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; tyrosine kinase
13.  BIM Mediates EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor-Induced Apoptosis in Lung Cancers with Oncogenic EGFR Mutations  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(10):e315.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations are present in the majority of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) responsive to the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib or erlotinib. These EGFR-dependent tumors eventually become TKI resistant, and the common secondary T790M mutation accounts for half the tumors with acquired resistance to gefitinib. However, the key proapoptotic proteins involved in TKI-induced cell death and other secondary mutations involved in resistance remain unclear. The objective of this study was to identify the mechanism of EGFR TKI-induced apoptosis and secondary resistant mutations that affect this process.
Methods and Findings
To study TKI-induced cell death and mechanisms of resistance, we used lung cancer cell lines (with or without EGFR mutations), Ba/F3 cells stably transfected with EGFR mutation constructs, and tumor samples from a gefitinib-resistant patient. Here we show that up-regulation of the BH3-only polypeptide BIM (also known as BCL2-like 11) correlated with gefitinib-induced apoptosis in gefitinib-sensitive EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells. The T790M mutation blocked gefitinib-induced up-regulation of BIM and apoptosis. This blockade was overcome by the irreversible TKI CL-387,785. Knockdown of BIM by small interfering RNA was able to attenuate apoptosis induced by EGFR TKIs. Furthermore, from a gefitinib-resistant patient carrying the activating L858R mutation, we identified a novel secondary resistant mutation, L747S in cis to the activating mutation, which attenuated the up-regulation of BIM and reduced apoptosis.
Our results provide evidence that BIM is involved in TKI-induced apoptosis in sensitive EGFR-mutant cells and that both attenuation of the up-regulation of BIM and resistance to gefitinib-induced apoptosis are seen in models that contain the common EGFR T790M and the novel L747S secondary resistance mutations. These findings also suggest that induction of BIM may have a role in the treatment of TKI-resistant tumors.
Susumu Kobayashi and colleagues provide evidence that the polypeptide BIM is involved in tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-induced apoptosis in sensitiveEGFR-mutant cells and suggest that induction of BIM may have a role in the treatment of TKI-resistant tumors.
Editors' Summary
Most cases of lung cancer—the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide—are “non-small cell lung cancer” (NSCLC). Many patients with NSCLC die within a year of their diagnosis, but recently, “targeted” therapies have increased the life expectancy of some of them. Like all cancers, NSCLC occurs when cells begin to divide uncontrollably because of changes (mutations) in their genes. Targeted therapies specifically attack these changes and, unlike standard chemotherapy drugs, kill cancer cells without damaging normal cells. The targeted drugs used to treat NSCLC are gefitinib and erlotinib, two epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). In normal cells, messenger proteins bind to EGFR and activate its tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that sticks phosphate groups on tyrosine (an amino acid) in other proteins. These “phosphorylated” proteins then tell the cell to divide. In some NSCLCs, EGFR drives uncontrolled cell division because its tyrosine kinase is mutated and the cancer becomes dependent on or “addicted” to EGFR signaling for its survival. TKI treatment can dramatically shrink this subset of NSCLCs, most of which lack a specific part of EGFR (the gene that encodes EGFR) or have the amino acid leucine instead of arginine at position 858 (an L858R mutation) of EGFR.
Why Was This Study Done?
TKI-sensitive NSCLCs eventually become resistant to TKIs because they acquire additional (secondary) mutations. In half of these TKI-resistant tumors, the additional mutation is replacement of threonine by methionine at position 790 (T790M) in EGFR. However, the mutations responsible for the remaining cases of TKI resistance are not known. In addition, little is known about how TKIs induce cell death other than that they induce a type of cell death called apoptosis. A better understanding of how TKIs kill tumor cells and how secondary mutations block their effects could reveal ways to enhance their action and improve the outcome for patients with NSCLC. In this study, the researchers have studied the mechanism of TKI-induced cell death and of resistance to TKIs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers first measured the ability of gefitinib to cause apoptosis (genetically programmed cell death) in NSCLC cell lines (tumor cells adapted to grow indefinitely in dishes) that had the EGFR deletion, the L858R mutation, or normal EGFR. Gefitinib caused apoptosis only in cell lines with altered EGFR. Then they asked whether a proapoptotic protein called BIM (a member of the BCL2 family of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins) is involved in TKI-induced cell death—BIM is known to be involved in this process in leukemia (blood cancer) cells. Gefitinib treatment increased the expression of BIM in TKI-sensitive NSCLC cell lines and reduced the phosphorylation of BIM (which makes BIM more active). By contrast, blocking BIM expression using a technique called RNA interference reduced TKI-induced apoptosis in TKI-sensitive NSCLC cells. Furthermore, introduction of the T790M resistance mutation into these cells blocked gefitinib-induced up-regulation of BIM and apoptosis. Finally, the researchers identified a new TKI resistance mutation (L747S, substitution of serine for leucine at position 747) in a patient whose TKI-sensitive NSCLC had become resistant to gefitinib, and showed that this resistance mutation also reduced TKI-induced apoptosis in cells growing in dishes by interfering with BIM up-regulation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings (and those reported by Gong et al. and Cragg et al.) show that BIM is required for TKI-induced apoptosis in EGFR mutant NSCLC cells. They also show that mutations that make TKI-sensitive cells resistant to these drugs reduce TKI-induced apoptosis by preventing the upregulation of BIM. These results were obtained by examining the behavior of established cell lines growing in dishes and need to be confirmed in cells freshly isolated from tumors and in tumors themselves. However, they suggest that the efficacy of TKIs could be increased by finding ways to increase BIM expression or to activate other proteins involved in apoptosis Such approaches might be particularly beneficial for patients with NSCLC whose initially TKI-sensitive tumors have acquired mutations that make them resistant to TKIs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Ingo Mellinghoff discusses this paper and two related ones in a perspective article
US National Cancer Institute information for patients and professionals on lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Information for patients from Cancer Research UK on lung cancer, including information on treatment with TKIs
CancerQuest information on all aspects of cancer from Emory University (in several languages)
Wikipedia pages on apoptosis, epidermal growth factor receptor, and BCL2 proteins (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information for patients from Cancerbackup on erlotinib and gefitinib
PMCID: PMC2043012  PMID: 17973572
14.  Which biomarker predicts benefit from EGFR-TKI treatment for patients with lung cancer? 
British Journal of Cancer  2007;96(6):857-863.
Subsets of patients with non-small cell lung cancer respond remarkably well to small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) specific for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) such as gefitinib or erlotinib. In 2004, it was found that EGFR mutations occurring in the kinase domain are strongly associated with EGFR-TKI sensitivity. However, subsequent studies revealed that this relationship was not perfect and various predictive markers have been reported. These include EGFR gene copy numbers, status of ligands for EGFR, changes in other HER family genes or molecules downstream to EGFR including KRAS or AKT. In this review, we would like to review current knowledge of predictive factors for EGFR-TKI. As all but one phase III trials failed to show a survival advantage of the treatment arm involving EGFR-TKIs, it is necessary to select patients by these biomarkers in future clinical trials. Through these efforts, it would be possible to individualise EGFR-TKI treatment for patients suffering from lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2360106  PMID: 17325698
gefitinib; erlotinib; biomarker; clinical trials; individualized therapy
15.  EGFR Mutations in Surgically Resected Fresh Specimens from 697 Consecutive Chinese Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Their Relationships with Clinical Features 
We aimed to reveal the true status of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in Chinese patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after lung resections. EGFR mutations of surgically resected fresh tumor samples from 697 Chinese NSCLC patients were analyzed by Amplification Refractory Mutation System (ARMS). Correlations between EGFR mutation hotspots and clinical features were also explored. Of the 697 NSCLC patients, 235 (33.7%) patients had tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKIs) sensitive EGFR mutations in 41 (14.5%) of the 282 squamous carcinomas, 155 (52.9%) of the 293 adenocarcinomas, 34 (39.5%) of the 86 adenosquamous carcinomas, one (9.1%) of the 11 large-cell carcinomas, 2 (11.1%) of the 18 sarcomatoid carcinomas, and 2 (28.6%) of the 7 mucoepidermoid carcinomas. TKIs sensitive EGFR mutations were more frequently found in female patients (p < 0.001), non-smokers (p = 0.047) and adenocarcinomas (p < 0.001). The rates of exon 19 deletion mutation (19-del), exon 21 L858R point mutation (L858R), exon 21 L861Q point mutation (L861Q), exon 18 G719X point mutations (G719X, including G719C, G719S, G719A) were 43.4%, 48.1%, 1.7% and 6.8%, respectively. Exon 20 T790M point mutation (T790M) was detected in 3 squamous carcinomas and 3 adenocarcinomas and exon 20 insertion mutation (20-ins) was detected in 2 patients with adenocarcinoma. Our results show the rates of EGFR mutations are higher in all types of NSCLC in Chinese patients. 19-del and L858R are two of the more frequent mutations. EGFR mutation detection should be performed as a routine postoperative examination in Chinese NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3876127  PMID: 24351833
EGFR mutations; NSCLC; targeted therapy; ARMS; surgery; fresh tumor specimens
16.  Cotargeting EGFR and autophagy signaling: A novel therapeutic strategy for non-small-cell lung cancer 
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) somatic mutations are found in the majority of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and patients with NSCLC who harbor EGFR mutations have been shown to exhibit increased sensitivity to the small-molecule EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib and erlotinib. However, the majority of tumors develop acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs after a median of 10–16 months, which limits the clinical efficacy of these drugs. Autophagy, an important homeostatic cellular recycling mechanism, has emerged as a potential target for the acquired resistance phenotype. Recently, several studies demonstrated that autophagy may be induced in a dose-dependent manner by treatment of multiple cancer cell lines with EGFR-TKIs in vitro. Furthermore, it was recently reported that autophagy, as a cytoprotective response, may be activated by EGFR-TKIs in lung cancer cells and that the inhibition of autophagy enhanced the cytotoxic effect of EGFR-TKIs. In this review, we aimed to focus on the association between resistance to EGFR-TKIs and autophagy, and assess whether autophagy inhibition represents a promising approach to improve the efficacy of EGFR-TKIs in the treatment of NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3915646  PMID: 24649300
epidermal growth factor receptor; autophagy; non-small-cell lung cancer; resistance
17.  Comparison of Direct Sequencing, PNA Clamping-Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, and Pyrosequencing Methods for the Detection of EGFR Mutations in Non-small Cell Lung Carcinoma and the Correlation with Clinical Responses to EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Treatment 
Korean Journal of Pathology  2013;47(1):52-60.
The aims of this study were to evaluate the abilities of direct sequencing (DS), peptide nucleic acid (PNA) clamping, and pyrosequencing methods to detect epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) samples and to correlate EGFR mutational status as determined by each method with the clinical response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs).
Sixty-one NSCLC patients treated with EGFR TKIs were identified to investigate somatic mutations in the EGFR gene (exons 18-21).
Mutations in the EGFR gene were detected in 38 of the 61 patients (62%) by DS, 35 (57%) by PNA clamping and 37 (61%) by pyrosequencing. A total of 44 mutations (72%) were found by at least one of the three methods, and the concordances among the results were relatively high (82-85%; kappa coefficient, 0.713 to 0.736). There were 15 discordant cases (25%) among the three different methods.
All three EGFR mutation tests had good concordance rates (over 82%) for FFPE samples. These results suggest that if the DNA quality and enrichment of tumor cells are assured, then DS, PNA clamping, and pyrosequencing are appropriate methods for the detection of EGFR mutations.
PMCID: PMC3589609  PMID: 23483646
Lung neoplasms; Receptor, epidermal growth factor; Mutation; Sequencing analysis, DNA; Peptide nucleic acids; Pyrosequencing
18.  Personalizing Therapy with Targeted Agents in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
Oncotarget  2011;2(3):165-177.
In the last 6 years, since the first reports of an association between somatic mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) exons 19 and 21 and response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has changed dramatically. Based on laboratory and clinical observations, investigators have anticipated that these mutations could be predictive of response to EGFR TKIs and numerous studies have confirmed that the presence of mutation was associated with longer survival in patients receiving targeted therapy. Prospective trials comparing standard platinum-based chemotherapy with EGFR TKIs in patients with and without activating EGFR mutations validated the predictive value of molecular selection of patients for first-line treatment of advanced NSCLC. Recently, preclinical and first-in-human studies have demonstrated impressive activity of ALK TKI in tumors harboring ALK rearrangement. In this article, we review current data on molecular biology of lung cancer and evidence-based patient selection for targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC3260814  PMID: 21444946
ALK; EGFR; KRAS; lung cancer; targeted therapy
19.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Exon 20 Mutation Increased in Post-Chemotherapy Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Detected with Patients' Blood Samples1 
Translational Oncology  2013;6(4):504-510.
PURPOSE: Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutations have excellent response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), and exon 20 mutation accounts for most of TKI drug resistance. Nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to detect EGFR exon 20 mutations of patients with NSCLC after chemotherapy. The same is being analyzed with patients' characteristics. METHODS: Peripheral blood samples were collected from 273 patients with NSCLC, including 143 with adenocarcinoma (ADC) and 130 with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), after chemotherapy. DNA was extracted from whole blood for nested PCR amplification and purification. Sequencing was carried out in an automated 3730 sequencer, followed by analysis of EGFR exon 20 mutations from nested PCR products. RESULTS: The mutations of EGFR exon 20 were mainly point mutations in rs1050171 (c.2361A>G) and rs56183713 (c.2457G>A). The point mutation was 28.21%, 28.46%, and 27.97% in patients with NSCLC, ADC and SCC, respectively. Men had an equivalent mutation (27.18%) to women (30.77%). The mutation in smokers and nonsmokers was 27.68% and 29.17%, respectively. In unselected patients, there was no correlation between EGFR exon 20 mutations and patients' characteristics of age, gender, smoking history, histologic type, or tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system. In subgroup analyses, the EGFR mutation of patients with SCC was correlated with TNM stage [P = .013; odds ratio = 1.758; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.125–2.747]. CONCLUSIONS: The data indicate that the chemotherapy may induce EGFR-TKI-resistant mutation in NSCLC cells and EGFR-TKI should be used in the early stage of NSCLC but not after chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3730025  PMID: 23908693
20.  Comparison of different methods for detecting epidermal growth factor receptor mutations in peripheral blood and tumor tissue of non-small cell lung cancer as a predictor of response to gefitinib 
OncoTargets and therapy  2012;5:439-447.
Previous studies have reported that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation in tumor tissue and peripheral blood can predict the response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the heterogeneity of the sample sources makes it difficult to evaluate the detecting methodologies. The goal of this study is to compare different methods for analyzing EGFR mutation in blood and tumor tissue.
Materials and methods
Fifty-one advanced NSCLC patients treated with gefitinib were included in the study. The EGFR mutation status of each patients’ blood was analyzed by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC), mutant-enriched liquidchip (ME-Liquidchip), and Scorpion Amplification Refractory Mutation System (Scorpion-ARMS) kits. EGFR mutation information in paired tumor samples detected by Scorpion-ARMS served as a reference. Comparative analyses were performed on mutation status results obtained from different methods and on the association between the clinical outcome of TKI treatment and EGFR mutation status.
The response rate (RR) in the whole group was 33.3%. EGFR mutation rates were identified as 15.7%, 27.5%, and 29.4% by DHPLC, ME-Liquidchip, and Scorpion-ARMS in blood, respectively. In 34 cases that had paired tumor samples, the mutation rate in tissue was 41.2%. The RRs of patients with mutation detected by different methods were 71.4% (tumor), 62.5% (blood, DHPLC), 50.0% (blood, ME-Liquidchip), and 66.7% (blood, Scorpion-ARMS). EGFR mutation detected by Scorpion-ARMS in blood and tumor tissues had better prediction of RR to EGFR-TKI (P = 0.002 and P = 0.001) than mutation detected with DHPLC and ME-Liquidchip.
Tumor tissue sample is the best source for EGFR mutation analysis in NSCLC patients. Peripheral blood samples may be used as an alternative source only in special conditions. Scorpion-ARMS, DHPLC, or ME-Liquidchip methods are all optional for detecting tumor EGFR mutation from blood.
PMCID: PMC3525047  PMID: 23251095
non-small cell lung cancer; EGFR mutation; mutation detection methods; gefitinib
21.  The relationship between tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy and overall survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer carrying EGFR mutations 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2013;32(3):136-140.
For patients with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive lung cancer, the relationship between the dose or duration of treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and overall survival remains unclear. Here, we analyzed clinical data of 39 patients who were diagnosed with EGFR mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer and treated with TKI, but subsequently died. Several parameters were measured in this study: overall survival; first, second, and overall TKI therapy durations; first TKI intensity (actual dose/normal dose); and TKI rate (overall TKI therapy duration/overall survival). The response rate to TKI therapy was 50%, and the median survival was 553 days. After TKI therapy failed, 38.5% patients were re-challenged with TKI. We observed a moderate relationship [r = 0.534, 95% confidential interval (CI) = 0.263 to 0.727, P < 0.001] between overall TKI therapy duration and overall survival. However, we found no relationship between overall survival and first TKI intensity (r = 0.073, 95% CI = -0.380 to 0.247, P = 0.657) or TKI rate (r = 0.0345, 95% CI = -0.284 to 0.346, P = 0.835). Non-small cell lung cancer patients with mutation-positive tumors remained on TKI therapy for, on average, 33% of the overall survival time. These findings suggest that patients with EGFR mutation-positive tumors should not stick to using TKIs.
PMCID: PMC3845597  PMID: 23237215
Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; gefitinib; erlotinib; non-small cell lung cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor mutation
22.  Optimizing response to gefitinib in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer 
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is expressed in the majority of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, only a restricted subgroup of NSCLC patients respond to treatment with the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (EGFR TKI) gefitinib. Clinical trials have demonstrated that patients carrying activating mutations of the EGFR significantly benefit from treatment with gefitinib. In particular, mutations of the EGFR TK domain have been shown to increase the sensitivity of the EGFR to exogenous growth factors and, at the same time, to EGFR TKIs such as gefitinib. EGFR mutations are more frequent in patients with particular clinical and pathological features such as female sex, nonsmoker status, adenocarcinoma histology, and East Asian ethnicity. A close correlation was found between EGFR mutations and response to gefitinib in NSCLC patients. More importantly, randomized Phase III studies have shown the superiority of gefitinib compared with chemotherapy in EGFR mutant patients in the first-line setting. In addition, gefitinib showed a good toxicity profile with an incidence of adverse events that was significantly lower compared with chemotherapy. Therefore, gefitinib is a major breakthrough for the management of EGFR mutant NSCLC patients and represents the first step toward personalized treatment of NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3513216  PMID: 23226050
gefitinib; EGFR; NSCLC; EGFR mutations
23.  Role of erlotinib in the targeted treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer in Chinese patients 
OncoTargets and therapy  2014;7:253-261.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been demonstrated to improve responses and clinical outcomes significantly in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In retrospective subgroup analyses of several studies, patients with Asian ethnicity (including Chinese) are a subpopulation who responds well to EGFR TKI therapy. Since EGFR-mutation status has emerged as an important predictor of a substantially increased benefit, the high mutation rate in the Asian (including Chinese) population could be the explanation for a superior benefit from EGFR TKI therapy. Erlotinib (Tarceva®), one of the EGFR TKIs, has been proved to be effective in second- and third-line therapy, and furthermore in first-line and maintenance settings. In this review, we summarize current data of clinical trials with erlotinib and discuss its role in the targeted treatment of NSCLC in Chinese patients.
PMCID: PMC3928465  PMID: 24611018
NSCLC; EGFR TKI; erlotinib
24.  EGFR Exon-Level Biomarkers of the Response to Bevacizumab/Erlotinib in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72966.
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.
PMCID: PMC3769372  PMID: 24039832
25.  Structural, biochemical and clinical characterization of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) exon 20 insertion mutations in lung cancer 
Science translational medicine  2013;5(216):216ra177.
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations (G719X, exon 19 deletions/insertions, L858R and L861Q) predict favorable responses to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, EGFR exon 20 insertion mutations (∼10% of all EGFR mutations) are generally associated with insensitivity to available TKIs (gefitinib, erlotinib and afatinib). The basis of this primary resistance is poorly understood.  We study a broad subset of exon 20 insertion mutations, comparing in vitro TKI sensitivity with responses to gefitinib and erlotinib in NSCLC patients; and find that most are resistant to EGFR TKIs. The crystal structure of a representative TKI-insensitive mutant (D770_N771insNPG) reveals an unaltered ATP-binding pocket and the inserted residues form a wedge at the end of the C-helix that promotes the active kinase conformation. Unlike EGFR-L858R, D770_N771insNPG activates EGFR without increasing its affinity for EGFR TKIs. Unexpectedly, we find that EGFR-A763_Y764insFQEA is highly sensitive to EGFR TKIs in vitro; and patients whose NSCLCs harbor this mutation respond to erlotinib. Analysis of the A763_Y764insFQEA mutant indicates that the inserted residues shift the register of the C-helix in the N-terminal direction, altering the structure in the region that is also affected by the TKI-sensitive EGFR-L858R. Our studies reveal intricate differences between EGFR mutations, their biology and their response to EGFR TKIs.
PMCID: PMC3954775  PMID: 24353160
lung cancer; non-small-cell lung cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; EGFR; erlotinib; gefitinib; afatinib; exon 20 insertion; x-ray crystallography

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