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1.  Elevated neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin contributes to erlotinib resistance in non-small cell lung cancer 
Purpose: The EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) demonstrate efficacy in NSCLC patients whose tumors harbor activating EGFR mutations. However, patients who initially respond to EGFR TKI treatment invariably develop resistance to the drugs. Known mechanisms account for approximately 70% of native and acquired EGFR TKI resistance. In the current study we investigated a novel mechanism of NSCLC resistance to erlotinib. Experimental Design: The mechanisms of acquired erlotinib resistance were evaluated by microarray analysis in thirteen NSCLC cell lines and in vivo in mice. Correlations between plasma neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin (NGAL) levels, erlotinib response and the EGFR mutational status were assessed in advanced stage NSCLC patients treated with erlotinib. Results: In 5 of 13 NSCLC cell lines NGAL was significantly upregulated. NGAL knockdown in erlotinib-resistant cells increased erlotinib sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. NGAL overexpression in erlotinib-sensitive cells augmented apoptosis resistance. This was mediated by NGAL-dependent modulation of the pro-apoptotic protein Bim levels. Evaluation of the plasma NGAL levels in NSCLC patients that received erlotinib revealed that patients with lower baseline NGAL demonstrated a better erlotinib response. Compared to patients with wild type EGFR, patients with activating EGFR mutations had lower plasma NGAL at baseline and weeks 4 and 8. Conclusions: Our studies uncover a novel mechanism of NGAL-mediated modulation of Bim levels in NSCLC that might contribute to TKI resistance in lung cancer patients. These findings provide the rationale for the further investigations of the utility of NGAL as a potential therapeutic target or diagnostic biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3745436  PMID: 23977408
Lung cancer; effectors of apoptosis; survival factors; EGFR; erlotinib resistance
2.  Bridging the clinical gaps: genetic, epigenetic and transcriptomic biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer in the post-National Lung Screening Trial era 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:168.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide in part due to our inability to identify which smokers are at highest risk and the lack of effective tools to detect the disease at its earliest and potentially curable stage. Recent results from the National Lung Screening Trial have shown that annual screening of high-risk smokers with low-dose helical computed tomography of the chest can reduce lung cancer mortality. However, molecular biomarkers are needed to identify which current and former smokers would benefit most from annual computed tomography scan screening in order to reduce the costs and morbidity associated with this procedure. Additionally, there is an urgent clinical need to develop biomarkers that can distinguish benign from malignant lesions found on computed tomography of the chest given its very high false positive rate. This review highlights recent genetic, transcriptomic and epigenomic biomarkers that are emerging as tools for the early detection of lung cancer both in the diagnostic and screening setting.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-168
PMCID: PMC3717087  PMID: 23870182
Biomarker; Diagnostics; Early detection; Epigenetics; Genetics; Lung cancer; Screening; Transcriptomics
5.  Transcriptomic Studies of the Airway Field of Injury Associated with Smoking-Related Lung Disease 
The “field of injury” hypothesis proposes that exposure to an inhaled insult such as cigarette smoke elicits a common molecular response throughout the respiratory tract. This response can therefore be quantified in any airway tissue, including readily accessible epithelial cells in the bronchus, nose, and mouth. High-throughput technologies, such as whole-genome gene expression microarrays, can be employed to catalog the physiological consequences of such exposures in the airway epithelium. Pulmonary diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and asthma are also thought to be associated with a field of injury, and in patients with these diseases, airway epithelial cells can be a useful surrogate for diseased tissue that is often difficult to obtain. Global measurement of mRNA and microRNA expression in these cells can provide useful information about the molecular pathogenesis of such diseases and may be useful for diagnosis and for predicting prognosis and response to therapy. In this review, our aim is to summarize the history and state of the art of such “transcriptomic” studies in the human airway epithelium, especially in smoking and smoking-related lung diseases, and to highlight future directions for this field.
doi:10.1513/pats.201011-066MS
PMCID: PMC3159071  PMID: 21543797
epithelium; lung neoplasms; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; asthma; tobacco
6.  Genetic Variation and Antioxidant Response Gene Expression in the Bronchial Airway Epithelium of Smokers at Risk for Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e11934.
Prior microarray studies of smokers at high risk for lung cancer have demonstrated that heterogeneity in bronchial airway epithelial cell gene expression response to smoking can serve as an early diagnostic biomarker for lung cancer. As a first step in applying functional genomic analysis to population studies, we have examined the relationship between gene expression variation and genetic variation in a central molecular pathway (NRF2-mediated antioxidant response) associated with smoking exposure and lung cancer. We assessed global gene expression in histologically normal airway epithelial cells obtained at bronchoscopy from smokers who developed lung cancer (SC, n = 20), smokers without lung cancer (SNC, n = 24), and never smokers (NS, n = 8). Functional enrichment analysis showed that the NRF2-mediated, antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated genes, were significantly lower in SC, when compared with expression levels in SNC. Importantly, we found that the expression of MAFG (a binding partner of NRF2) was correlated with the expression of ARE genes, suggesting MAFG levels may limit target gene induction. Bioinformatically we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in putative ARE genes and to test the impact of genetic variation, we genotyped these putative regulatory SNPs and other tag SNPs in selected NRF2 pathway genes. Sequencing MAFG locus, we identified 30 novel SNPs and two were associated with either gene expression or lung cancer status among smokers. This work demonstrates an analysis approach that integrates bioinformatics pathway and transcription factor binding site analysis with genotype, gene expression and disease status to identify SNPs that may be associated with individual differences in gene expression and/or cancer status in smokers. These polymorphisms might ultimately contribute to lung cancer risk via their effect on the airway gene expression response to tobacco-smoke exposure.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011934
PMCID: PMC2914741  PMID: 20689807

Results 1-6 (6)