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1.  Oncogenic KRAS-induced interleukin-8 overexpression promotes cell growth and migration and contributes to aggressive phenotypes of non-small cell lung cancer 
The CXC chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) is an angiogenic growth factor that is overexpressed in various cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Previously, IL-8 was shown as a transcriptional target of RAS signaling, raising the possibility of its role in oncogenic KRAS-driven NSCLC. Using microarray analysis, we identified IL-8 as the most downregulated gene by shRNA-mediated KRAS knockdown in NCI-H1792 NSCLC cells where IL-8 is overexpressed. NSCLC cell lines harboring KRAS or EGFR mutations overexpressed IL-8, while IL-8 levels were more prominent in KRAS mutants compared to EGFR mutants. IL-8 expression was downregulated by shRNA-mediated KRAS knockdown in KRAS mutants or by treatment with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and EGFR siRNAs in EGFR mutants. In our analysis of the relationship of IL-8 expression with clinical parameters and mutation status of KRAS or EGFR in 89 NSCLC surgical specimens, IL-8 expression was shown to be significantly higher in NSCLCs of males, smokers, and elderly patients and those with pleural involvement and KRAS mutated adenocarcinomas. In KRAS mutant cells, the MEK inhibitor markedly decreased IL-8 expression, while the p38 inhibitor increased IL-8 expression. Attenuation of IL-8 function by siRNAs or a neutralizing antibody inhibited cell proliferation and migration of KRAS mutant/IL-8 overexpressing NSCLC cells. These results indicate that activating mutations of KRAS or EGFR upregulate IL-8 expression in NSCLC; IL-8 is highly expressed in NSCLCs from males, smokers, elderly patients, NSCLCs with pleural involvement, and KRAS-mutated adenocarcinomas; and IL-8 plays a role in cell growth and migration in oncogenic KRAS-driven NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3374723  PMID: 21544811
non-small cell lung cancer; KRAS; interleukin-8; molecular target
2.  Knockdown of Oncogenic KRAS in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers Suppresses Tumor Growth and Sensitizes Tumor Cells to Targeted Therapy 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2011;10(2):336-346.
Oncogenic KRAS is found in >25% of lung adenocarcinomas, the major histologic subtype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and is an important target for drug development. To this end, we generated four NSCLC lines with stable knockdown selective for oncogenic KRAS. As expected, stable knockdown of oncogenic KRAS led to inhibition of in vitro and in vivo tumor growth in the KRAS mutant NSCLC cells, but not in NSCLC cells that have wild-type KRAS (but mutant NRAS). Surprisingly, we did not see large-scale induction of cell death and the growth inhibitory effect was not complete. To further understand the ability of NSCLCs to grow despite selective removal of mutant KRAS expression, we performed microarray expression profiling of NSCLC cell lines with or without mutant KRAS knockdown and isogenic human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBECs) with and without oncogenic KRAS. We found that while the MAPK pathway is significantly down-regulated after mutant KRAS knockdown, these NSCLCs showed increased levels of phospho-STAT3 and phospho-EGFR, and variable changes in phospho-Akt. In addition, mutant KRAS knockdown sensitized the NSCLCs to p38 and EGFR inhibitors. Our findings suggest that targeting oncogenic KRAS by itself will not be sufficient treatment but may offer possibilities of combining anti-KRAS strategies with other targeted drugs.
PMCID: PMC3061393  PMID: 21306997
3.  Transcriptome-Wide Analysis of UTRs in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Reveals Cancer-Related Genes with SNV-Induced Changes on RNA Secondary Structure and miRNA Target Sites 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e82699.
Traditional mutation assessment methods generally focus on predicting disruptive changes in protein-coding regions rather than non-coding regulatory regions like untranslated regions (UTRs) of mRNAs. The UTRs, however, are known to have many sequence and structural motifs that can regulate translational and transcriptional efficiency and stability of mRNAs through interaction with RNA-binding proteins and other non-coding RNAs like microRNAs (miRNAs). In a recent study, transcriptomes of tumor cells harboring mutant and wild-type KRAS (V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog) genes in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have been sequenced to identify single nucleotide variations (SNVs). About 40% of the total SNVs (73,717) identified were mapped to UTRs, but omitted in the previous analysis. To meet this obvious demand for analysis of the UTRs, we designed a comprehensive pipeline to predict the effect of SNVs on two major regulatory elements, secondary structure and miRNA target sites. Out of 29,290 SNVs in 6462 genes, we predict 472 SNVs (in 408 genes) affecting local RNA secondary structure, 490 SNVs (in 447 genes) affecting miRNA target sites and 48 that do both. Together these disruptive SNVs were present in 803 different genes, out of which 188 (23.4%) were previously known to be cancer-associated. Notably, this ratio is significantly higher (one-sided Fisher's exact test p-value = 0.032) than the ratio (20.8%) of known cancer-associated genes (n = 1347) in our initial data set (n = 6462). Network analysis shows that the genes harboring disruptive SNVs were involved in molecular mechanisms of cancer, and the signaling pathways of LPS-stimulated MAPK, IL-6, iNOS, EIF2 and mTOR. In conclusion, we have found hundreds of SNVs which are highly disruptive with respect to changes in the secondary structure and miRNA target sites within UTRs. These changes hold the potential to alter the expression of known cancer genes or genes linked to cancer-associated pathways.
PMCID: PMC3885406  PMID: 24416147
4.  Mutational Analysis of EGFR and Related Signaling Pathway Genes in Lung Adenocarcinomas Identifies a Novel Somatic Kinase Domain Mutation in FGFR4 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(5):e426.
Fifty percent of lung adenocarcinomas harbor somatic mutations in six genes that encode proteins in the EGFR signaling pathway, i.e., EGFR, HER2/ERBB2, HER4/ERBB4, PIK3CA, BRAF, and KRAS. We performed mutational profiling of a large cohort of lung adenocarcinomas to uncover other potential somatic mutations in genes of this signaling pathway that could contribute to lung tumorigenesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We analyzed genomic DNA from a total of 261 resected, clinically annotated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) specimens. The coding sequences of 39 genes were screened for somatic mutations via high-throughput dideoxynucleotide sequencing of PCR-amplified gene products. Mutations were considered to be somatic only if they were found in an independent tumor-derived PCR product but not in matched normal tissue. Sequencing of 9MB of tumor sequence identified 239 putative genetic variants. We further examined 22 variants found in RAS family genes and 135 variants localized to exons encoding the kinase domain of respective proteins. We identified a total of 37 non-synonymous somatic mutations; 36 were found collectively in EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, and PIK3CA. One somatic mutation was a previously unreported mutation in the kinase domain (exon 16) of FGFR4 (Glu681Lys), identified in 1 of 158 tumors. The FGFR4 mutation is analogous to a reported tumor-specific somatic mutation in ERBB2 and is located in the same exon as a previously reported kinase domain mutation in FGFR4 (Pro712Thr) in a lung adenocarcinoma cell line.
This study is one of the first comprehensive mutational analyses of major genes in a specific signaling pathway in a sizeable cohort of lung adenocarcinomas. Our results suggest the majority of gain-of-function mutations within kinase genes in the EGFR signaling pathway have already been identified. Our findings also implicate FGFR4 in the pathogenesis of a subset of lung adenocarcinomas.
PMCID: PMC1855985  PMID: 17487277
5.  Assessing the Radiation Response of Lung Cancer with Different Gene Mutations Using Genetically Engineered Mice 
Purpose: Non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) are a heterogeneous group of carcinomas harboring a variety of different gene mutations. We have utilized two distinct genetically engineered mouse models of human NSCLC (adenocarcinoma) to investigate how genetic factors within tumor parenchymal cells influence the in vivo tumor growth delay after one or two fractions of radiation therapy (RT).
Materials and Methods: Primary lung adenocarcinomas were generated in vivo in mice by intranasal delivery of an adenovirus expressing Cre-recombinase. Lung cancers expressed oncogenic KrasG12D and were also deficient in one of two tumor suppressor genes: p53 or Ink4a/ARF. Mice received no radiation treatment or whole lung irradiation in a single fraction (11.6 Gy) or in two 7.3 Gy fractions (14.6 Gy total) separated by 24 h. In each case, the biologically effective dose (BED) equaled 25 Gy10. Response to RT was assessed by micro-CT 2 weeks after treatment. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and immunohistochemical staining were performed to assess the integrity of the p53 pathway, the G1 cell-cycle checkpoint, and apoptosis.
Results: Tumor growth rates prior to RT were similar for the two genetic variants of lung adenocarcinoma. Lung cancers with wild-type (WT) p53 (LSL-Kras; Ink4a/ARFFL/FL mice) responded better to two daily fractions of 7.3 Gy compared to a single fraction of 11.6 Gy (P = 0.002). There was no statistically significant difference in the response of lung cancers deficient in p53 (LSL-Kras; p53FL/FL mice) to a single fraction (11.6 Gy) compared to 7.3 Gy × 2 (P = 0.23). Expression of the p53 target genes p21 and PUMA were higher and bromodeoxyuridine uptake was lower after RT in tumors with WT p53.
Conclusion: Using an in vivo model of malignant lung cancer in mice, we demonstrate that the response of primary lung cancers to one or two fractions of RT can be influenced by specific gene mutations.
PMCID: PMC3613757  PMID: 23565506
tumor cell biology; genetically engineered mouse models; fractionation; p53
6.  A comparison of Direct sequencing, Pyrosequencing, High resolution melting analysis, TheraScreen DxS, and the K-ras StripAssay for detecting KRAS mutations in non small cell lung carcinomas 
It is mandatory to confirm the absence of mutations in the KRAS gene before treating metastatic colorectal cancers with epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, and similar regulations are being considered for non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC) and other tumor types. Routine diagnosis of KRAS mutations in NSCLC is challenging because of compromised quantity and quality of biological material. Although there are several methods available for detecting mutations in KRAS, there is little comparative data regarding their analytical performance, economic merits, and workflow parameters.
We compared the specificity, sensitivity, cost, and working time of five methods using 131 frozen NSCLC tissue samples. We extracted genomic DNA from the samples and compared the performance of Sanger cycle sequencing, Pyrosequencing, High-resolution melting analysis (HRM), and the Conformité Européenne (CE)-marked TheraScreen DxS and K-ras StripAssay kits.
Results and conclusions
Our results demonstrate that TheraScreen DxS and the StripAssay, in that order, were most effective at diagnosing mutations in KRAS. However, there were still unsatisfactory disagreements between them for 6.1% of all samples tested. Despite this, our findings are likely to assist molecular biologists in making rational decisions when selecting a reliable, efficient, and cost-effective method for detecting KRAS mutations in heterogeneous clinical tumor samples.
PMCID: PMC3542008  PMID: 22995035
SNP - single nucleotide polymorphism; KRAS - Kiras2 kristen rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog; NSCLC - Non-small cell lung cancer; Genotyping
7.  KRAS Mutations and Primary Resistance of Lung Adenocarcinomas to Gefitinib or Erlotinib 
PLoS Medicine  2005;2(1):e17.
Somatic mutations in the gene for the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are found in adenocarcinomas of the lung and are associated with sensitivity to the kinase inhibitors gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva). Lung adenocarcinomas also harbor activating mutations in the downstream GTPase, KRAS, and mutations in EGFR and KRAS appear to be mutually exclusive.
Methods and Findings
We sought to determine whether mutations in KRAS could be used to further enhance prediction of response to gefitinib or erlotinib. We screened 60 lung adenocarcinomas defined as sensitive or refractory to gefitinib or erlotinib for mutations in EGFR and KRAS. We show that mutations in KRAS are associated with a lack of sensitivity to either drug.
Our results suggest that treatment decisions regarding use of these kinase inhibitors might be improved by determining the mutational status of both EGFR and KRAS.
Mutational analysis of the KRAS gene in lung cancer patients treated with two different kinase inhibitors suggests that tumors with KRAS mutations do not respond to these drugs
PMCID: PMC545207  PMID: 15696205
8.  Biochip-Based Detection of KRAS Mutation in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
This study is aimed at evaluating the potential of a biochip assay to sensitively detect KRAS mutation in DNA from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tissue samples. The assay covers 10 mutations in codons 12 and 13 of the KRAS gene, and is based on mutant-enriched PCR followed by reverse-hybridization of biotinylated amplification products to an array of sequence-specific probes immobilized on the tip of a rectangular plastic stick (biochip). Biochip hybridization identified 17 (21%) samples to carry a KRAS mutation of which 16 (33%) were adenocarcinomas and 1 (3%) was a squamous cell carcinoma. All mutations were confirmed by DNA sequencing. Using 10 ng of starting DNA, the biochip assay demonstrated a detection limit of 1% mutant sequence in a background of wild-type DNA. Our results suggest that the biochip assay is a sensitive alternative to protocols currently in use for KRAS mutation testing on limited quantity samples.
PMCID: PMC3257086  PMID: 22272089
non-small cell lung cancer; KRAS; mutation detection; biochip hybridization
9.  Differential Expression of RBM5, EGFR and KRAS mRNA and protein in non-small cell lung cancer tissues 
RNA binding motif 5 (RBM5) is a tumor suppressor gene that modulates apoptosis through the regulation of alternative splicing of apoptosis-related genes. This study aimed to detect RBM5 expression in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and to associate RBM5 expression with clinicopathological data from NSCLC patients and EGFR and KRAS expression to better understand the potential role of RBM5 in NSCLC.
Semi-quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting were performed to detect expression of mRNA and protein, respectively, of RBM5, EGFR and KRAS in 120 paired non-tumor and tumor samples of NSCLC.
The data showed that expression of RBM5 mRNA and protein was significantly reduced in NSCLC compared to normal tissues, whereas expression of both EGFR and KRAS genes was increased in NSCLC compared to normal tissues. Furthermore, the reduced RBM5 protein expression correlated with smoking status, tumor stage and lymph node metastasis of NSCLC, while overexpression of EGFR and KRAS proteins correlated with tumor stage and lymph node metastasis of NSCLC. Overexpression of KRAS protein was more frequent in smokers with NSCLC. In addition, expression of RBM5 mRNA and protein was negatively correlated with expression of EGFR and KRAS mRNA and protein in NSCLC tissues.
This study suggests further evaluation of RBM5 expression is warranted for use of RBM5 as a biomarker for NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3403968  PMID: 22537942
NSCLC; RBM5; EGFR; KRAS; carcinogenesis
10.  Identification of somatic mutations in non-small cell lung carcinomas using whole-exome sequencing 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(7):1270-1276.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) being the predominant form of the disease. Most lung cancer is caused by the accumulation of genomic alterations due to tobacco exposure. To uncover its mutational landscape, we performed whole-exome sequencing in 31 NSCLCs and their matched normal tissue samples. We identified both common and unique mutation spectra and pathway activation in lung adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major histologies in NSCLC. In addition to identifying previously known lung cancer genes (TP53, KRAS, EGFR, CDKN2A and RB1), the analysis revealed many genes not previously implicated in this malignancy. Notably, a novel gene CSMD3 was identified as the second most frequently mutated gene (next to TP53) in lung cancer. We further demonstrated that loss of CSMD3 results in increased proliferation of airway epithelial cells. The study provides unprecedented insights into mutational processes, cellular pathways and gene networks associated with lung cancer. Of potential immediate clinical relevance, several highly mutated genes identified in our study are promising druggable targets in cancer therapy including ALK, CTNNA3, DCC, MLL3, PCDHIIX, PIK3C2B, PIK3CG and ROCK2.
PMCID: PMC3499051  PMID: 22510280
11.  Effect of KRAS Oncogene Substitutions on Protein Behavior: Implications for Signaling and Clinical Outcome 
Mutations in the v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) play a critical role in cancer cell growth and resistance to therapy. Most mutations occur at codons 12 and 13. In colorectal cancer, the presence of any mutant KRas amino acid substitution is a negative predictor of patient response to targeted therapy. However, in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the evidence that KRAS mutation is a predictive factor is conflicting.
We used data from a molecularly targeted clinical trial for 215 patients with tissues available out of 268 evaluable patients with refractory NSCLC to examine associations between specific mutant KRas proteins and progression-free survival and tumor gene expression. Transcriptome microarray studies of patient tumor samples and reverse-phase protein array studies of a panel of 67 NSCLC cell lines with known substitutions in KRas and in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells stably expressing different mutant KRas proteins were used to investigate signaling pathway activation. Molecular modeling was used to study the conformations of wild-type and mutant KRas proteins. Kaplan–Meier curves and Cox regression were used to analyze survival data. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Patients whose tumors had either mutant KRas-Gly12Cys or mutant KRas-Gly12Val had worse progression-free survival compared with patients whose tumors had other mutant KRas proteins or wild-type KRas (P = .046, median survival = 1.84 months) compared with all other mutant KRas (median survival = 3.35 months) or wild-type KRas (median survival = 1.95 months). NSCLC cell lines with mutant KRas-Gly12Asp had activated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3-K) and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) signaling, whereas those with mutant KRas-Gly12Cys or mutant KRas-Gly12Val had activated Ral signaling and decreased growth factor–dependent Akt activation. Molecular modeling studies showed that different conformations imposed by mutant KRas may lead to altered association with downstream signaling transducers.
Not all mutant KRas proteins affect patient survival or downstream signaling in a similar way. The heterogeneous behavior of mutant KRas proteins implies that therapeutic interventions may need to take into account the specific mutant KRas expressed by the tumor.
PMCID: PMC3274509  PMID: 22247021
12.  Two Multiplex Assays That Simultaneously Identify 22 Possible Mutation Sites in the KRAS, BRAF, NRAS and PIK3CA Genes 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8802.
Recently a number of randomized trials have shown that patients with advanced colorectal cancer do not benefit from therapies targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor when their tumors harbor mutations in the KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes. We developed two multiplex assays that simultaneously screen 22 nucleotides in the KRAS, NRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA genes for mutations. The assays were validated on 294 tumor DNA samples from patients with advanced colorectal cancer. In these samples 119 KRAS codon 12 and 13 mutations had been identified by sequence analysis, 126 tumors were wild-type for KRAS and the analysis failed in 49 of the 294 samples due to poor DNA quality. The two mutation assays detected 130 KRAS mutations, among which were 3 codon 61 mutations, and in addition 32 PIK3CA, 13 BRAF and 6 NRAS mutations. In 19 tumors a KRAS mutation was found together with a mutation in the PIK3CA gene. One tumor was mutant for both PIK3CA and BRAF. In summary, the mutations assays identified 161 tumors with a mutation, 120 were wild-type and the analysis failed in 13. The material cost of the 2 mutation assays was calculated to be 8-fold lower than the cost of sequencing required to obtain the same data. In addition, the mutation assays are less labor intensive. We conclude that the performance of the two multiplex mutation assays was superior to direct sequencing. In addition, these assays are cheaper and easier to interpret. The assays may also be of use for selection of patients with other tumor types.
PMCID: PMC2809099  PMID: 20098682
13.  Atorvastatin overcomes gefitinib resistance in KRAS mutant human non-small cell lung carcinoma cells 
Chen, J | Bi, H | Hou, J | Zhang, X | Zhang, C | Yue, L | Wen, X | Liu, D | Shi, H | Yuan, J | Liu, J | Liu, B
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(9):e814-.
The exact influence of statins on gefitinib resistance in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells with KRAS mutation alone or KRAS/PIK3CA and KRAS/PTEN comutations remains unclear. This work found that transfection of mutant KRAS plasmids significantly suppressed the gefitinib cytotoxicity in Calu3 cells (wild-type KRAS). Gefitinib disrupted the Kras/PI3K and Kras/Raf complexes in Calu3 cells, whereas not in Calu3 KRAS mutant cells. These trends were corresponding to the expression of pAKT and pERK in gefitinib treatment. Atorvastatin (1 μM) plus gefitinib treatment inhibited proliferation, promoted cell apoptosis, and reduced the AKT activity in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells compared with gefitinib alone. Atorvastatin (5 μM) further enhanced the gefitinib cytotoxicity through concomitant inhibition of AKT and ERK activity. Atorvastatin could interrupt Kras/PI3K and Kras/Raf complexes, leading to suppression of AKT and ERK activity. Similar results were also obtained in comutant KRAS/PTEN or KRAS/PIK3CA NSCLC cells. Furthermore, mevalonate administration reversed the effects of atorvastatin on the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes, as well as AKT and ERK activity in both A549 and Calu1 cells. The in vivo results were similar to those obtained in vitro. Therefore, mutant KRAS-mediated gefitinib insensitivity is mainly derived from failure to disrupt the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells. Atorvastatin overcomes gefitinib resistance in KRAS mutant NSCLC cells irrespective of PIK3CA and PTEN statuses through inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase-dependent disruption of the Kras/Raf and Kras/PI3K complexes.
PMCID: PMC3789171  PMID: 24071646
gefitinib; atorvastatin; mutant KRAS; NSCLC
14.  Integrated mutation, copy number and expression profiling in resectable non-small cell lung cancer 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:93.
The aim of this study was to identify critical genes involved in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) pathogenesis that may lead to a more complete understanding of this disease and identify novel molecular targets for use in the development of more effective therapies.
Both transcriptional and genomic profiling were performed on 69 resected NSCLC specimens and results correlated with mutational analyses and clinical data to identify genetic alterations associated with groups of interest.
Combined analyses identified specific patterns of genetic alteration associated with adenocarcinoma vs. squamous differentiation; KRAS mutation; TP53 mutation, metastatic potential and disease recurrence and survival. Amplification of 3q was associated with mutations in TP53 in adenocarcinoma. A prognostic signature for disease recurrence, reflecting KRAS pathway activation, was validated in an independent test set.
These results may provide the first steps in identifying new predictive biomarkers and targets for novel therapies, thus improving outcomes for patients with this deadly disease.
PMCID: PMC3058106  PMID: 21385341
15.  Sunitinib Prolongs Survival in Genetically Engineered Mouse Models of Multistep Lung Carcinogenesis 
Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has a poor prognosis, with substantial mortality rates even among patients diagnosed with early-stage disease. There are few effective measures to block the development or progression of NSCLC. Antiangiogenic drugs represent a new class of agents targeting multiple aspects of tumor progression, including cell proliferation, invasion, migration, and outgrowth of metastatic deposits. We tested the multitargeted angiogenesis inhibitor sunitinib in a novel endogenous mouse model of NSCLC, which expresses a conditional activating mutation in Kras with or without conditional deletion of Lkb1; both alterations are frequent in human NSCLC. We showed that daily treatment with sunitinib reduced tumor size, caused tumor necrosis, blocked tumor progression, and prolonged median survival in both the metastatic (Lkb1/Kras) and nonmetastatic (Kras) mouse models; median survival was not reached in the nonmetastatic model after 1 year. However, the incidence of local and distant metastases was similar in sunitinib-treated and untreated Lkb1/Kras mice, suggesting that prolonged survival with sunitinib in these mice was due to direct effects on primary tumor growth rather than to inhibition of metastatic progression. These collective results suggest that the use of angiogenesis inhibitors in early-stage disease for prevention of tumor development and growth may have major survival benefits in the setting of NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2696128  PMID: 19336729
16.  Expression of the Mismatch Repair Gene hMLH1 Is Enhanced in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with EGFR Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78500.
Mismatch repair (MMR) plays a pivotal role in keeping the genome stable. MMR dysfunction can lead to carcinogenesis by gene mutation accumulation. HMSH2 and hMLH1 are two key components of MMR. High or low expression of them often mark the status of MMR function. Mutations (EGFR, KRAS, etc) are common in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, it is not clear what role MMR plays in NSCLC gene mutations. The expression of MMR proteins hMSH2 and hMLH1, and the proliferation markers PCNA and Ki67 were measured by immunohistochemistry in 181 NSCLCs. EGFR and KRAS mutations were identified by high resolution melting analysis. Stronger hMLH1 expression correlated to a higher frequency of EGFR mutations in exon 19 and 21 (p<0.0005). Overexpression of hMLH1 and the adenocarcinoma subtype were both independent factors that related to EGFR mutations in NSCLCs (p=0.013 and p<0.0005). The expression of hMLH1, hMSH2 and PCNA increased, while Ki67 expression significantly decreased (p=0.030) in NSCLCs with EGFR mutations. Overexpression of hMLH1 could be a new molecular marker to predict the response to EGFR-TKIs in NSCLCs. Furthermore, EGFR mutations might be an early event of NSCLC that occur before MMR dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3812034  PMID: 24205245
17.  Mutation incidence and coincidence in non small-cell lung cancer: meta-analyses by ethnicity and histology (mutMap) 
Annals of Oncology  2013;24(9):2371-2376.
Meta-analyses were conducted to characterize patterns of mutation incidence in non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Nine genes with the most complete published mutation coincidence data were evaluated. One meta-analysis generated a ‘mutMap’ to visually represent mutation coincidence by ethnicity (Western/Asian) and histology (adenocarcinoma [ADC] or squamous cell carcinoma). Another meta-analysis evaluated incidence of individual mutations. Extended analyses explored incidence of EGFR and KRAS mutations by ethnicity, histology, and smoking status.
Genes evaluated were TP53, EGFR, KRAS, LKB1, EML4-ALK, PTEN, BRAF, PIK3CA, and ErbB2. The mutMap highlighted mutation coincidences occurring in ≥5% of patients, including TP53 with KRAS or EGFR mutations in patients with ADC, and TP53 with LKB1 mutation in Western patients. TP53 was the most frequently mutated gene overall. Frequencies of TP53, EGFR, KRAS, LKB1, PTEN, and BRAF mutations were influenced by histology and/or ethnicity. Although EGFR mutations were most frequent in patients with ADC and never/light smokers from Asia, and KRAS mutations were most frequent in patients with ADC and ever/heavy smokers from Western countries, both were detected outside these subgroups.
Potential molecular pathology segments of NSCLC were identified. Further studies of mutations in NSCLC are warranted to facilitate more specific diagnoses and guide treatment.
PMCID: PMC3755331  PMID: 23723294
geography; histology; lung cancer; mutation coincidence; oncogenes
18.  Protein Kinase Cδ is a downstream effector of oncogenic KRAS in lung tumors1 
Cancer Research  2011;71(6):2087-2097.
Oncogenic activation of KRAS occurs commonly in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but strategies to therapeutically target this pathway have been challenging to develop. Information about downstream effectors of KRAS remains incomplete and tractable targets are yet to be defined. In this study we investigated the role of Protein Kinase C delta (PKCδ) in KRAS dependent lung tumorigenesis using a mouse carcinogen model and human NSCLC cells. The incidence of urethane-induced lung tumors was decreased by 69% in PKCδ deficient (δKO) mice compared to wild type (δWT) mice. δKO tumors are smaller and showed reduced proliferation. DNA sequencing indicated that all δWT tumors had activating mutations in KRAS, whereas only 69% of δKO tumors did, suggesting that PKCδ acts as a tumor promoter downstream of oncogenic KRAS, while acting as a tumor suppressor in other oncogenic contexts. Similar results were obtained in a panel of NSCLC cell lines with oncogenic KRAS, but which differ in their dependence on KRAS for survival. RNAi-mediated attenuation of PKCδ inhibited anchorage-independent growth, invasion, migration and tumorigenesis in KRAS-dependent cells. These effects were associated with suppression of MAPK pathway activation. In contrast, PKCδ attenuation enhanced anchorage-independent growth, invasion and migration in NSCLC cells that were either KRAS-independent or that had wild-type KRAS. Unexpectedly, our studies indicate that the function of PKCδ in tumor cells depends on a specific oncogenic context, as loss of PKCδ in NSCLC cells suppressed transformed growth only in cells dependent upon oncogenic KRAS for proliferation and survival.
PMCID: PMC3271733  PMID: 21335545
PKC delta; K-Ras; lung cancer; transformation
19.  RASSF1A Promoter Methylation and Kras2 Mutations in Non Small Cell Lung Cancer1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2003;5(4):362-366.
In the present studies, we investigated the correlation between RASSF1A promoter methylation status and Kras2 mutations in 65 primary non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) including 33 adenocarcinomas, 12 large cell carcinomas, and 20 squamous cell carcinomas. Mutational analysis of Kras2 showed: 30% (10 of 33) of adenocarcinomas, 25% (3 of 12) of large cell carcinomas, and only 5% (1 of 20) of squamous cell carcinomas contained activated Kras2 mutation at codon 12 or 13. RASSF1A promoter region CpG island methylation was detected in adenocarcinomas (55%), large cell carcinomas (25%), and squamous cell carcinomas (25%). Interestingly, combined RASSF1A methylation and Kras2 mutation data show that only ∼7% adenocarcinomas/large cell carcinomas exhibited both KRASSF1A promoter methylation and Kras2 mutation, whereas 24% adenocarcinomas, 50% large cell carcinomas, and 70% squamous cell carcinomas showed neither Kras2 mutation nor RASSF1A promoter methylation. These results showed that the majority of the primary NSCLCs with Kras2 mutations lack RASSF1A inactivation, and both RASSF1A inactivation and Kras2 mutation events occur frequently in adenocarcinomas and large cell carcinomas. Our results indicate a trend of inverse relationship between Kras2 activation and RASSF1A promoter methylation in the majority of human lung adenocarcinomas and large cell carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC1550336  PMID: 14511407
Kras2; RASSF1A; mutations; methylation; lung cancer
20.  Screening for EGFR and KRAS mutations in non-small cell lung carcinomas using DNA extraction by hydrothermal pressure coupled with PCR-based direct sequencing 
EGFR and KRAS mutations correlate with response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). We reported a hydrothermal pressure method of simultaneous deparaffinization and lysis of formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue followed by conventional chaotropic salt column purification to obtain high quality DNA for mutation analysis using PCR-base direct sequencing. This study assessed the feasibility of using this method to screen for exons 18-21 of EGFR and exon 2 of KRAS gene mutations in surgical resection and core needle biopsy specimens from 251 NSCLC patients. EGFR mutations were identified in 140 (55.8%) NSCLC patients (118 in adenocarcinoma, 11 in squamous cell carcinoma, 7 in adenocarcinoma and 4 in NSCLC-not otherwise specified), including four novel substitutions (L718M, A743V, L815P, V819E). EGFR mutations were frequently present in female patients (72 of 113, 63.7%) and NSCLC with adenocarcinoma component (125/204, 61.3%) with statistical significance. Twenty-one patients had multiple mutations at different exons of EGFR, in which seventeen patients had deletions in exon 19. KRAS mutations were found in 18 (7.2%) patients (15 in adenocarcinoma, 2 in squamous cell carcinoma and one in NSCLC-not otherwise specified), including an uncommon substitution G13C. Deparaffinization and lysis by hydrothermal pressure, coupled with purification and PCR-based sequencing, provides a robust screening approach for EGFR and KRAS mutation analysis of FFPE tissues from either surgical resection or core needle biopsy in clinical personalized management of lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3759496  PMID: 24040454
EGFR; KRAS; FFPE; hydrothermal pressure; lung cancer; mutation analysis
21.  A SNP in a let-7 microRNA complementary site in the KRAS 3′UTR Increases Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Risk 
Cancer research  2008;68(20):8535-8540.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, yet few genetic markers of lung cancer risk useful for screening exist. The let-7 family-of-microRNAs (miRNAs) are global genetic regulators important in controlling lung cancer oncogene expression by binding to the 3′UTRs (untranslated regions) of their target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). The purpose of this study was to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that could modify let-7 binding and to assess the effect of such SNPs on target gene regulation and risk for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). let-7 complementary sites (LCSs) were sequenced in the KRAS 3′UTR from 74 NSCLC cases to identify mutations and SNPs that correlated with NSCLC. The allele frequency of a previously un-identified SNP at LCS6 was characterized in 2433 people (representing 46 human populations). The frequency of the variant allele is 18.1–20.3% in NSCLC patients and 5.8% in world populations. The association between the SNP and the risk for NSCLC was defined in two independent case-control studies. A case-control study of lung cancer from New Mexico showed a 2.3-fold increased risk (C.I.= 1.1–4.6, p = 0.02) for NSCLC cancer in patients who smoked < 40 pack years. This association was validated in a second independent case-control study. Functionally, the variant allele results in KRAS over-expression in vitro. The LCS6 variant allele in a KRAS miRNA complementary site is significantly associated with increased risk for NSCLC among moderate smokers, and represents a new paradigm for let-7 miRNAs in lung cancer susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC2672193  PMID: 18922928
22.  Atypical Protein Kinase Cι is Required for Bronchioalveolar Stem Cell Expansion and Lung Tumorigenesis 
Cancer research  2009;69(19):7603-7611.
Protein kinase Cι (PKCι) is an oncogene required for maintenance of the transformed phenotype of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. However, the role of PKCι in lung tumor development has not been investigated. To address this question, we established a mouse model in which oncogenic KrasG12D is activated by Cre-mediated recombination in the lung with or without simultaneous genetic loss of the mouse PKCι gene, Prkci. Genetic loss of Prkci dramatically inhibits Kras-initiated hyperplasia and subsequent lung tumor formation in vivo. This effect correlates with a defect in the ability of Prkci-deficient bronchioalveolar stem cells (BASCs) to undergo Kras-mediated expansion and morphological transformation in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the small molecule PKCι inhibitor aurothiomalate inhibits Kras-mediated BASC expansion and lung tumor growth in vivo. Thus, Prkci is required for oncogene-induced expansion and transformation of tumor-initiating lung stem cells. Furthermore, aurothiomalate is an effective anti-tumor agent that targets the tumor-initiating stem cell niche in vivo. These data have important implications for PKCι as a therapeutic target and for the clinical use of aurothiomalate for lung cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC2756303  PMID: 19738040
lung tumor initiation; aurothiomalate; lung cancer stem cells; Kras transformation; transgenic mice
23.  Prognostic and Predictive Value of KRAS Mutations in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64816.
Clinical implications of KRAS mutations in advanced non-small cell lung cancer remain unclear. We retrospectively evaluated the prognostic and predictive value of KRAS mutations in patients with advanced NSCLC. Among 484 patients with available results for both KRAS and EGFR mutations, 39 (8%) had KRAS and 182 (38%) EGFR mutations, with two cases having both mutations. The median overall survivals for patients with KRAS mutations, EGFR mutations, or both wild types were 7.7, 38.0, and 15.0 months, respectively (P<0.001). The KRAS mutation was an independent poor prognostic factor in the multivariate analysis (hazard ratio = 2.6, 95% CI: 1.8–3.7). Response rates and progression-free survival (PFS) for the pemetrexed-based regimen in the KRAS mutation group were 14% and 2.1 months, inferior to those (28% and 3.9 months) in the KRAS wild type group. KRAS mutation tended to be associated with inferior treatment outcomes after gemcitabine-based chemotherapy, while there was no difference regarding taxane-based regimen. Although the clinical outcomes to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) seemed to be better in patients with KRAS wild type than those with KRAS mutations, there was no statistical difference in response rates and PFS according to KRAS mutation status when EGFR mutation status was considered. Two patients with both KRAS and EGFR mutations showed partial response to EGFR TKIs. Although G12D mutation appeared more frequently in never smokers, there was no difference in clinical outcomes according to KRAS genotypes. These results suggested KRAS mutations have an independent prognostic value but a limited predictive role for EGFR TKIs or cytotoxic chemotherapy in advanced NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3665805  PMID: 23724098
24.  Clinical Features and Outcome of Patients With Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer Who Harbor EML4-ALK 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(26):4247-4253.
The EML4-ALK fusion oncogene represents a novel molecular target in a small subset of non–small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC). To aid in identification and treatment of these patients, we examined the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients who had NSCLC with and without EML4-ALK.
Patients and Methods
Patients with NSCLC were selected for genetic screening on the basis of two or more of the following characteristics: female sex, Asian ethnicity, never/light smoking history, and adenocarcinoma histology. EML4-ALK was identified by using fluorescent in situ hybridization for ALK rearrangements and was confirmed by immunohistochemistry for ALK expression. EGFR and KRAS mutations were determined by DNA sequencing.
Of 141 tumors screened, 19 (13%) were EML4-ALK mutant, 31 (22%) were EGFR mutant, and 91 (65%) were wild type (WT/WT) for both ALK and EGFR. Compared with the EGFR mutant and WT/WT cohorts, patients with EML4-ALK mutant tumors were significantly younger (P < .001 and P = .005) and were more likely to be men (P = .036 and P = .039). Patients with EML4-ALK–positive tumors, like patients who harbored EGFR mutations, also were more likely to be never/light smokers compared with patients in the WT/WT cohort (P < .001). Eighteen of the 19 EML4-ALK tumors were adenocarcinomas, predominantly the signet ring cell subtype. Among patients with metastatic disease, EML4-ALK positivity was associated with resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Patients in the EML4-ALK cohort and the WT/WT cohort showed similar response rates to platinum-based combination chemotherapy and no difference in overall survival.
EML4-ALK defines a molecular subset of NSCLC with distinct clinical characteristics. Patients who harbor this mutation do not benefit from EGFR TKIs and should be directed to trials of ALK-targeted agents.
PMCID: PMC2744268  PMID: 19667264
25.  HIF2α cooperates with RAS to promote lung tumorigenesis in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(8):2160-2170.
Members of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) family of transcription factors regulate the cellular response to hypoxia. In non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), high HIF2α levels correlate with decreased overall survival, and inhibition of either the protein encoded by the canonical HIF target gene VEGF or VEGFR2 improves clinical outcomes. However, whether HIF2α is causal in imparting this poor prognosis is unknown. Here, we generated mice that conditionally express both a nondegradable variant of HIF2α and a mutant form of Kras (KrasG12D) that induces lung tumors. Mice expressing both Hif2a and KrasG12D in the lungs developed larger tumors and had an increased tumor burden and decreased survival compared with mice expressing only KrasG12D. Additionally, tumors expressing both KrasG12D and Hif2a were more invasive, demonstrated features of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and exhibited increased angiogenesis associated with mobilization of circulating endothelial progenitor cells. These results implicate HIF2α causally in the pathogenesis of lung cancer in mice, demonstrate in vivo that HIF2α can promote expression of markers of EMT, and define HIF2α as a promoter of tumor growth and progression in a solid tumor other than renal cell carcinoma. They further suggest a possible causal relationship between HIF2α and prognosis in patients with NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC2719950  PMID: 19662677

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