RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is an independent prognostic variable in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the present study, we investigated the correlation between PKR and 25 other biomarkers for NSCLC, identified the markers that could further improve the prognostic significance of PKR, and elucidated the mechanisms of interaction between these markers and PKR.
Tissue microarray samples obtained from 218 lung cancer patients were stained with an anti-PKR antibody and antibodies against 25 biomarkers. Immunohistochemical expression was scored and used for Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The interaction between PKR and EphA2 in NSCLC cell lines was examined.
We found that PKR was associated with EphA2 and that the prognostic information regarding NSCLC provided by the combination of PKR and EphA2 (P/E) was significantly more accurate than that provided by either marker alone. The 5-year overall survival rate in PKRlow/EphA2high patients (20%) was significantly lower than that of PKRhigh/EphA2low patients (74%), PKRhigh/EphA2high patients (55%), and PKRlow/EphA2low patients (55%) (p< 0.0001). We also found that the PKR:EphA2 (P/E) ratio was significantly associated with prognosis (p< 0.0001). Univariate and multivariate Cox analyses revealed that this P/E combination or ratio was an independent predictor of overall survival. In addition, induction of PKR expression reduced EphA2 protein expression levels in NSCLC cell lines.
PKR/EphA2 is a significant predictor of prognosis for NSCLC. PKR/EphA2 may be a promising approach to improving screening efficiency and predicting prognosis in NSCLC patients.
PKR; EphA2; Biomarker; Lung cancer
The sensitivity of only a few tumors to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) can be explained by the presence of EGFR tyrosine kinase (TK) domain mutations. In addition, such mutations were rarely found in tumor types other than lung, such as pancreatic and head and neck cancer. In this study we sought to elucidate mechanisms of resistance to EGFR-targeted therapies in tumors that do not harbor TK sensitizing mutations in order to identify markers capable of guiding the decision to incorporate these drugs into chemotherapeutic regimens. Here we show that EGFR activity was markedly decreased during the evolution of resistance to the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) erlotinib, with a concomitant increase of mitogen-inducible gene 6 (Mig6), a negative regulator of EGFR through the upregulation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. EGFR activity, which was more accurately predicted by the ratio of Mig6/EGFR, highly correlated with erlotinib sensitivity in panels of cancer cell lines of different tissue origins. Blinded testing and analysis in a prospectively followed cohort of lung cancer patients treated with gefitinib alone demonstrated higher response rates and a marked increased in progression free survival for patients with a low Mig6/EGFR ratio (approximately 100 days, P = 0.01).
The purpose of this study was to characterize insulin receptor (IR) and insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) expression in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
A total of 459 patients who underwent curative resection of NSCLC were studied (median follow-up duration, 4.01 years). Expression of the IR and IGF-1R protein in tumor specimens was assessed immunohistochemically using tissue microarrays.
The cytoplasmic IR score was higher in patients with adenocarcinoma (ADC) than in those with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) whereas cytoplasmic IGF-1R score was higher in patients with SCC than those with ADC. Neither IR nor IGF-1R expression was associated with sex, smoking history, or clinical stage. Patients with positive IR or IGF-1R expression levels had poor recurrence-free (RFS) (3.8 vs. 3.3 years; 3.8 vs. 2.0 years, respectively), but similar overall survival (OS). Patients with high expression levels of IR and IGF-1R had shorter RFS and OS compared to those with low levels of IR and/or IGF-1R expression. Finally, a multivariate analysis revealed the impact of IR, but not of IGF-1R, as an independent predictive marker of NSCLC survival: hazard ratio (HR) for OS, 1.005 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.001 – 1.010], HR for RFS, 1.005 (95% CI, 1.001 – 1.009), when IR score was tested as a continuous variable.
Overexpression of IR predicts a poor survival among patients with NSCLC, especially those with SCC. These results might serve as future guidance to the clinical trials involving IR or IGR-1R targeting agents.
Carcinoma; Non-Small-Cell Lung; Receptor; Insulin; Receptor; IGF Type 1; Prognosis; Survival
Understanding oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes expression patterns is essential for characterizing lung cancer pathogenesis. We have previously demonstrated that mGprc5a/hGPRC5A is a lung-specific tumor suppressor evidenced by inflammation-mediated tumorigenesis in Gprc5a-knockout mice. The implication of GPRC5A in human lung cancer pathogenesis, including that associated with inflammatory chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a risk factor for the malignancy, remains elusive.
We sought to examine GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression in histologically normal bronchial epithelia (NBE) from lung disease-free never- and ever-smokers (n = 13 and n = 18, respectively), from COPD patients with (n = 26) and without cancer (n = 24) and in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) (n = 474). Quantitative assessment of GPRC5A transcript expression in airways (n = 6), adjacent NBEs (n = 29) and corresponding tumors (n = 6) from 6 NSCLC patients was also performed.
GPRC5A immunohistochemical expression was significantly lower in tumors compared to uninvolved NBE (p < 0.0001) and was positively associated with adenocarcinoma histology (p < 0.001). GPRC5A airway expression was highest in lung disease-free NBE, decreased and intermediate in NBE of cancer-free COPD patients (p = 0.004) and further attenuated and lowest in epithelia of COPD patients with adenocarcinoma and SCC (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, GPRC5A mRNA was significantly decreased in NSCLCs and corresponding NBE compared to uninvolved normal lung (p = 0.03).
Our findings highlight decreased GPRC5A expression in the field cancerization of NSCLC, including that associated with lung inflammation. Assessment of the use of GPRC5A expression as a risk factor for NSCLC development in COPD patients is warranted.
Field cancerization; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Non–small-cell lung cancer; g-protein coupled receptor family C; group 5; member A; gene expression
The requirement of frozen tissues for microarray experiments limits the clinical usage of genome-wide expression profiling using microarray technology. The goal of this study is to test the feasibility of developing lung cancer prognosis gene signatures using genome-wide expression profiling of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples, which are widely available and provide a valuable rich source for studying the association of molecular changes in cancer and associated clinical outcomes.
We randomly selected 100 Non-Small-Cell lung cancer (NSCLC) FFPE samples with annotated clinical information from the UT-Lung SPORE Tissue Bank. We micro dissected tumor area from FFPE specimens, and used Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0 arrays to attain gene expression data. After strict quality control and analysis procedures, a supervised principal component analysis was used to develop a robust prognosis signature for NSCLC. Three independent published microarray data sets were used to validate the prognosis model.
This study demonstrated that the robust gene signature derived from genome-wide expression profiling of FFPE samples is strongly associated with lung cancer clinical outcomes, can be used to refine the prognosis for stage I lung cancer patients and the prognostic signature is independent of clinical variables. This signature was validated in several independent studies and was refined to a 59-gene lung cancer prognosis signature.
We conclude that genome-wide profiling of FFPE lung cancer samples can identify a set of genes whose expression level provides prognostic information across different platforms and studies, which will allow its application in clinical settings.
Lung Cancer Prognosis; Gene Expression Signature; Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded Samples
Activating enhancer-binding protein-2β (AP2β) is a transcription factor involved in apoptosis. The purpose of the current study was to assess the cellular location and level of AP2β in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and normal lung tissue and investigate whether the level and localization of AP2β expression is predictive of overall survival in patients with stage I NSCLC.
We performed immunohistochemical analysis of tissue microarrays (TMAs) prepared from stage I NSCLC specimens with adjacent normal lung tissue from two independent sets of patients who underwent lung resection with curative intent at our institution. AP2β intensity was assessed in TMAs, and AP2β staining patterns were classified as either diffuseor nucleolar in the TMAs. AP2β intensity and localization were analyzed for correlation with patients' survival.
Immunohistochemical analysis of TMAs showed that the intensity of AP2β immunohistochemical staining did not correlate with overall survival. When location of AP2β was analyzed in TMAs, all of the normal lung tissue had diffuse pattern of AP2β. In the first set of NSCLC, patients with nucleolar pattern had a significantly lower 5-year survival rate than patients with diffuse pattern (67% vs. 100%; P = 0.004); this finding was confirmed in the second set (64% vs. 91%; P = 0.02). Multivariate analysis revealed that nucleolar pattern was an independent predictor of poor overall survival in both sets.
The AP2β which is located in the nucleoplasm in normal lung tissue is found in either nucleoplasm or nucleoli in NSCLC. The patients with AP2β in the nucleoli had poor survival compared to patients with AP2β in the cytoplasm.
Lung cancer biology; survival analysis
Lung cancer continues to be a major deadly malignancy. The mortality of this disease could be reduced by improving the ability to predict cancer patients' survival. We hypothesized that genes differentially expressed among cells constituting an in vitro human lung carcinogenesis model consisting of normal, immortalized, transformed, and tumorigenic bronchial epithelial cells are relevant to the clinical outcome of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Multidimensional scaling, microarray, and functional pathways analyses of the transcriptomes of the above cells were done and combined with integrative genomics to incorporate the microarray data with published NSCLC data sets. Up-regulated (n = 301) and down-regulated genes (n = 358) displayed expression level variation across the in vitro model with progressive changes in cancer-related molecular functions. A subset of these genes (n = 584) separated lung adenocarcinoma clinical samples (n = 361) into two clusters with significant survival differences. Six genes, UBE2C, TPX2, MCM2, MCM6, FEN1, and SFN, selected by functional array analysis, were also effective in prognosis. The mRNA and protein levels of one these genes—UBE2C—were significantly up-regulated in NSCLC tissue relative to normal lung and increased progressively in lung lesions. Moreover, stage I NSCLC patients with positive UBE2C expression exhibited significantly poorer overall and progression-free survival than patients with negative expression. Our studies with this in vitro model have lead to the identification of a robust six-gene signature, which may be valuable for predicting the survival of lung adenocarcinoma patients. Moreover, one of those genes, UBE2C, seems to be a powerful biomarker for NSCLC survival prediction.
Lung adenocarcinoma is histologically heterogeneous and has 5 distinct histologic growth patterns: lepidic, acinar, papillary, micropapillary, and solid. To date, there is no consensus regarding the clinical utility of these patterns.
The authors performed a detailed semiquantitative assessment of histologic patterns of 240 lung adenocarcinomas and determined the association with patients’ clinicopathologic features, including recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) rates. In a subset of tumors, expression levels of 2 prognostic molecular markers were evaluated: thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1) (n = 218) and a panel of 5 proteins (referred as the FILM signature index) (n = 185).
Four mutually exclusive tumor histology pattern groups were identified: 1) any solid (38%), 2) any papillary but no solid (14%), 3) lepidic and acinar but no solid or papillary (30%), and 4) acinar only (18%). Patients in group 3 had a higher RFS rate than patients in group 1 (hazard ratio [HR], 0.4510; P = .0165) and group 2 (HR, 0.4253; P = .0425). Solid pattern tumors (group 1) were associated with a lower OS rate than nonsolid pattern tumors (all stages: HR; 1.665; P = .0144; stages I and II: HR, 2.157; P = .008). In the patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern, high TTF-1 expression was associated significantly with higher RFS (HR, 0.994; P = .0017) and OS (HR, 0.996; P = .0276) rates in all stages, and a high FILM signature index score was associated with lower RFS and OS rates in all stages (RFS: HR, 1.343; P = .0192; OS: HR, 1.371; P = .0156) and in stages I and II (RFS: HR, 1.419; P = .0095; OS: HR, 1.315; P = .0422).
The presence of a solid histologic pattern was identified as a marker of unfavorable prognosis in patients with primary lung adenocarcinoma. High TTF-1 expression and low FILM signature index scores were associated with a better prognosis for patients who had tumors with a nonsolid pattern.
histologic patterns; lung adenocarcinoma; thyroid transcription factor 1; prognostic signature
For therapeutic purposes, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has traditionally been regarded as a single disease. However, recent evidence suggest that the two major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) respond differently to both molecular targeted and new generation chemotherapies. Therefore, identifying the molecular differences between these tumor types may impact novel treatment strategy. We performed the first large-scale analysis of 261 primary NSCLC tumors (169 AC and 92 SqCC), integrating genome-wide DNA copy number, methylation and gene expression profiles to identify subtype-specific molecular alterations relevant to new agent design and choice of therapy. Comparison of AC and SqCC genomic and epigenomic landscapes revealed 778 altered genes with corresponding expression changes that are selected during tumor development in a subtype-specific manner. Analysis of >200 additional NSCLCs confirmed that these genes are responsible for driving the differential development and resulting phenotypes of AC and SqCC. Importantly, we identified key oncogenic pathways disrupted in each subtype that likely serve as the basis for their differential tumor biology and clinical outcomes. Downregulation of HNF4α target genes was the most common pathway specific to AC, while SqCC demonstrated disruption of numerous histone modifying enzymes as well as the transcription factor E2F1. In silico screening of candidate therapeutic compounds using subtype-specific pathway components identified HDAC and PI3K inhibitors as potential treatments tailored to lung SqCC. Together, our findings suggest that AC and SqCC develop through distinct pathogenetic pathways that have significant implication in our approach to the clinical management of NSCLC.
In contrast to the well-studied classic MAPKs, such as ERK1/2, little is known concerning the regulation and substrates of the atypical MAPK ERK3 signaling cascade and its function in cancer progression. Here, we report that ERK3 interacted with and phosphorylated steroid receptor coactivator 3 (SRC-3), an oncogenic protein overexpressed in multiple human cancers at serine 857 (S857). This ERK3-mediated phosphorylation at S857 was essential for interaction of SRC-3 with the ETS transcription factor PEA3, which promotes upregulation of MMP gene expression and proinvasive activity in lung cancer cells. Importantly, knockdown of ERK3 or SRC-3 inhibited the ability of lung cancer cells to invade and form tumors in the lung in a xenograft mouse model. In addition, ERK3 was found to be highly upregulated in human lung carcinomas. Our study identifies a previously unknown role for ERK3 in promoting lung cancer cell invasiveness by phosphorylating SRC-3 and regulating SRC-3 proinvasive activity by site-specific phosphorylation. As such, ERK3 protein kinase may be an attractive target for therapeutic treatment of invasive lung cancer.
Identification of effective markers for outcome is expected to improve the clinical management of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we assessed in NSCLC the prognostic efficacy of genes, which we had previously found to be differentially expressed in an in vitro model of human lung carcinogenesis.
Prediction algorithms and risk-score models were applied to the expression of the genes in publicly available NSCLC expression datasets. The prognostic capacity of the immunohistochemical expression of proteins encoded by these genes was also tested using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue specimens from 156 lung adenocarcinomas and 79 squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).
The survival of all-stages (p<0.001, HR=2.0) or stage-I (p<0.001, HR=2.84) adenocarcinoma patients that expressed the five-gene in vitro lung carcinogenesis model (FILM) signature was significantly poorer than that of patients who did not. No survival differences were observed between SCCs predicted to express or lack FILM signature. Moreover, all stages (p<0.001, HR=1.95) or stage-I (p=0.001, HR=2.6) adenocarcinoma patients predicted to be at high risk by FILM transcript exhibited significantly worse survival than patients at low risk. Furthermore, the corresponding protein signature was associated with poor survival (all stages, p<0.001, HR=3.6; stage-I, p<0.001, HR=3.5; stage-IB, p<0.001, HR=4.6) and mortality risk (all stages, p=0.001, HR=4.0; stage-I, p=0.01, HR=3.4; stage-IB, p<0.001, HR=7.2) in lung adenocarcinoma patients.
Our findings highlight a gene and corresponding protein signature with effective capacity for identification of stage-I lung adenocarcinoma patients with poor prognosis that are likely to benefit from adjuvant therapy.
Lung adenocarcinoma; NSCLC; gene signature; prognosis
The role of RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) in antiviral defence mechanisms and in cellular differentiation, growth, and apoptosis is well known, but the role of PKR in human lung cancer remains poorly understood. To explore the role of PKR in human lung cancer, we evaluated PKR’s expression in tissue microarray specimens from both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and normal human bronchial epithelium tissue.
Tissue microarray samples (TMA-1) from 231 lung cancers were stained with PKR antibody and validated on TMA-2 from 224 lung cancers. Immunohistochemical expression score was quantified by three pathologists independently. Survival probability was computed by the Kaplan-Meier method.
The NSCLC cells showed lower levels of PKR expression than normal bronchial epithelium cells did. We also found a significant association between lower levels of PKR expression and lymph node metastasis. We found that loss of PKR expression is correlated with a more aggressive behavior, and that a high PKR expression predicts a subgroup of patients with a favorable outcome. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression models showed that a lower level of PKR expression was significantly associated with shorter survival in NSCLC patients. We further validated and confirmed that PKR to be a powerful prognostic factor in TMA-2 lung cancer (HR=0.22, P<0.0001).
Our findings first indicate that PKR expression is an independent prognostic variable in NSCLC patients.
PKR; Biomarker; Lung cancer
Smoking is the most important known risk factor for the development of lung cancer. Tobacco exposure results in chronic inflammation, tissue injury and repair. A recent hypothesis argues for a stem/progenitor cell involved in airway epithelial repair that may be a tumor-initiating cell in lung cancer, and which may be associated with recurrence and metastasis. We used immunostaining, quantitative real-time PCR, Western blots and lung cancer tissue microarrays to identify subpopulations of airway epithelial stem/progenitor cells under steady state conditions, normal repair, aberrant repair with premalignant lesions and lung cancer and their correlation with injury and prognosis. We identified a population of keratin 14 (K14)-expressing progenitor epithelial cells that was involved in repair after injury. Dysregulated repair resulted in persistence of K14+ cells in the airway epithelium in premalignant lesions. The presence of K14+ cells in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples predicted poorer outcomes. This was especially true in smokers where the presence of K14+ cells in NSCLC was predictive of metastasis. The presence of K14+ progenitor airway epithelial cells in NSCLC predicted a poor prognosis and this predictive value was strongest in smokers, where it also correlated with metastasis. This suggests that reparative K14+ progenitor cells may be tumor-initiating cells in this subgroup of smokers with NSCLC.
Lung carcinogenesis; dysregulated repair; injury
To understand the role of Nrf2 and Keap1 in NSCLC, we studied their expression in a large series of tumors with annotated clinicopathologic data, including response to platinum-based adjuvant chemotherapy.
We determined the immunohistochemical expression of nuclear Nrf2 and cytoplasmic Keap1 in 304 NSCLCs and its association with patients’ clinicopathologic characteristics, and in 89 tumors from patients who received neoadjuvant (n=26) or adjuvant platinum-based chemotherapy (n=63). We evaluated NFE2L2 and KEAP1 mutations in 31 tumor specimens.
We detected nuclear Nrf2 expression in 26% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in squamous cell carcinomas (38%) than in adenocarcinomas (18%; P<0.0001). Low or absent Keap1 expression was detected in 56% of NSCLCs; it was significantly more common in adenocarcinomas (62%) than in squamous cell carcinomas (46%; P=0.0057). In NSCLC, mutations of NFE2L2 and KEAP1 were very uncommon (2 of 29 and 1 of 31 cases, respectively). In multivariate analysis, Nrf2 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P=0.0139; HR=1.75) in NSCLC patients, and low or absent Keap1 expression was associated with worse overall survival (P=0.0181; HR=2.09) in squamous cell carcinoma. In univariate analysis, nuclear Nrf2 expression was associated with worse recurrence-free survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients who received adjuvant treatment (P=0.0410; HR=3.37).
Increased expression of Nrf2 and decreased expression of Keap1 are common abnormalities in NSCLC and are associated with a poor outcome. Nuclear expression of Nrf2 in malignant lung cancer cells may play a role in resistance to platinum-based treatment in squamous cell carcinoma.
Nrf2; Keap1; NSCLC
Collagen XXIII is a transmembrane collagen previously shown to be upregulated in metastatic prostate cancer. This study’s purpose was to determine the protein expression of collagen XXIII in tumor tissues from a variety of cancers and to assess collagen XXIII’s utility as a biomarker for non small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
A multi-cancer tissue microarray (TMA) was used for immunohistochemical examination of collagen XXIII protein expression in a variety of cancers. Subsequently, collagen XXIII expression was analyzed in three separate cohorts using TMAs with representative tumor and control lung tissues from NSCLC patients. In addition, NSCLC patient urine samples were analyzed for the presence of collagen XXIII via Western blot.
Collagen XXIII was present in tissue samples from a variety of cancers. Within lung cancer tissues, collagen XXIII staining was enriched in NSCLC subtypes. Collagen XXIII was present in 294 of 333 (88%) lung adenocarcinomas and 97 of 133 (73%) squamous cell carcinomas (SqCC). In urine, collagen XXIII was present in 23 of 29 (79%) NSCLC patient samples but only in 15 of 54 (28%) control samples. High collagen XXIII staining intensity correlated with shorter recurrence-free survival in NSCLC patients.
We demonstrate the capability of collagen XXIII as a tissue and urinary biomarker for NSCLC, where positivity in tissue or urine significantly correlates with presence of NSCLC and high staining intensity is a significant recurrence predictor.
Inclusion of collagen XXIII in a tissue or urine-based cancer biomarker panel could inform NSCLC patient treatment decisions.
tissue microarray; fluid biomarker; cancer surveillance and screening
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents the majority (85%) of lung cancers and is comprised mainly of adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). The sequential pathogenesis of lung adenocarcinomas and SCCs occurs through dissimilar phases as the former tumors typically arise in the lung periphery whereas the latter normally arise near the central airway.
We assessed the expression of SOX2, an embryonic stem cell transcriptional factor that also plays important roles in the proliferation of basal tracheal cells and whose expression is restricted to the main and central airways and bronchioles of the developing and adult mouse lung, in NSCLC by various methodologies. Here, we found that SOX2 mRNA levels, from various published datasets, were significantly elevated in lung SCCs compared to adenocarcinomas (all p<0.001). Moreover, a previously characterized OCT4/SOX2/NANOG signature effectively separated lung SCCs from adenocarcinomas in two independent publicly available datasets which correlated with increased SOX2 mRNA in SCCs. Immunohistochemical analysis of various histological lung tissue specimens demonstrated marked nuclear SOX2 protein expression in all normal bronchial epithelia, alveolar bronchiolization structures and premalignant lesions in SCC development (hyperplasia, dysplasia and carcinoma in situ) and absence of expression in all normal alveoli and atypical adenomatous hyperplasias. Moreover, SOX2 protein expression was greatly higher in lung SCCs compared to adenocarcinomas following analyses in two independent large TMA sets (TMA set I, n = 287; TMA set II, n = 511 both p<0.001). Furthermore, amplification of SOX2 DNA was detected in 20% of lung SCCs tested (n = 40) and in none of the adenocarcinomas (n = 17).
Our findings highlight a cell-lineage gene expression pattern for the stem cell transcriptional factor SOX2 in the pathogenesis of lung SCCs and suggest a differential activation of stem cell-related pathways between squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas of the lung.