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1.  MET gene amplification or EGFR mutation activate MET in lung cancers untreated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors 
We analyzed MET protein and copy number in NSCLC with or without EGFR mutations untreated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). MET copy number was examined in 28 NSCLC and 4 human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBEC) and 100 primary tumors using quantitative real-time PCR. Positive results were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization and fluorescence in-situ hybridization. Total and phospho-MET protein expression was determined in 24 NSCLC and 2 HBEC cell lines using Western blot. EGFR mutations were examined for exon 19 deletions, T790M, and L858R. Knockdown of EGFR with siRNA was performed to examine the relation between EGFR and MET activation. High-level MET amplification was observed in 3 of 28 NSCLC cell lines and in 2 of 100 primary lung tumors that had not been treated with EGFR-TKIs. MET protein was highly expressed and phosphorylated in all the 3 cell lines with high MET amplification. In contrast, 6 NSCLC cell lines showed phospho-MET among 21 NSCLC cell lines without MET amplification (p = 0.042). Furthermore, those 6 cell lines harboring phospho-MET expression without MET amplification were all EGFR mutant (p = 0.0039). siRNA-mediated knockdown of EGFR abolished phospho-MET expression in examined 3 EGFR mutant cell lines of which MET gene copy number was not amplified. By contrast, phospho-MET expression in 2 cell lines with amplified MET gene was not down-regulated by knockdown of EGFR. Our results indicated that MET amplification was present in untreated NSCLC and EGFR mutation or MET amplification activated MET protein in NSCLC.
doi:10.1002/ijc.24150
PMCID: PMC2767331  PMID: 19117057
MET; amplification; EGFR; gefitinib; lung cancer
2.  Oncogene Mutations, Copy Number Gains and Mutant Allele Specific Imbalance (MASI) Frequently Occur Together in Tumor Cells 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7464.
Background
Activating mutations in one allele of an oncogene (heterozygous mutations) are widely believed to be sufficient for tumorigenesis. However, mutant allele specific imbalance (MASI) has been observed in tumors and cell lines harboring mutations of oncogenes.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We determined 1) mutational status, 2) copy number gains (CNGs) and 3) relative ratio between mutant and wild type alleles of KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA and EGFR genes by direct sequencing and quantitative PCR assay in over 400 human tumors, cell lines, and xenografts of lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. Examination of a public database indicated that homozygous mutations of five oncogenes were frequent (20%) in 833 cell lines of 12 tumor types. Our data indicated two major forms of MASI: 1) MASI with CNG, either complete or partial; and 2) MASI without CNG (uniparental disomy; UPD), due to complete loss of wild type allele. MASI was a frequent event in mutant EGFR (75%) and was due mainly to CNGs, while MASI, also frequent in mutant KRAS (58%), was mainly due to UPD. Mutant: wild type allelic ratios at the genomic level were precisely maintained after transcription. KRAS mutations or CNGs were significantly associated with increased ras GTPase activity, as measured by ELISA, and the two molecular changes were synergistic. Of 237 lung adenocarcinoma tumors, the small number with both KRAS mutation and CNG were associated with shortened survival.
Conclusions
MASI is frequently present in mutant EGFR and KRAS tumor cells, and is associated with increased mutant allele transcription and gene activity. The frequent finding of mutations, CNGs and MASI occurring together in tumor cells indicates that these three genetic alterations, acting together, may have a greater role in the development or maintenance of the malignant phenotype than any individual alteration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007464
PMCID: PMC2757721  PMID: 19826477
3.  Alterations in Genes of the EGFR Signaling Pathway and Their Relationship to EGFR Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Sensitivity in Lung Cancer Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4576.
Background
Deregulation of EGFR signaling is common in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and this finding led to the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are highly effective in a subset of NSCLC. Mutations of EGFR (mEGFR) and copy number gains (CNGs) of EGFR (gEGFR) and HER2 (gHER2) have been reported to predict for TKI response. Mutations in KRAS (mKRAS) are associated with primary resistance to TKIs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the relationship between mutations, CNGs and response to TKIs in a large panel of NSCLC cell lines. Genes studied were EGFR, HER2, HER3 HER4, KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA. Mutations were detected by sequencing, while CNGs were determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). IC50 values for the TKIs gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) were determined by MTS assay. For any of the seven genes tested, mutations (39/77, 50.6%), copy number gains (50/77, 64.9%) or either (65/77, 84.4%) were frequent in NSCLC lines. Mutations of EGFR (13%) and KRAS (24.7%) were frequent, while they were less frequent for the other genes. The three techniques for determining CNG were well correlated, and qPCR data were used for further analyses. CNGs were relatively frequent for EGFR and KRAS in adenocarcinomas. While mutations were largely mutually exclusive, CNGs were not. EGFR and KRAS mutant lines frequently demonstrated mutant allele specific imbalance i.e. the mutant form was usually in great excess compared to the wild type form. On a molar basis, sensitivity to gefitinib and erlotinib were highly correlated. Multivariate analyses led to the following results:
 1. mEGFR and gEGFR and gHER2 were independent factors related to gefitinib sensitivity, in descending order of importance.
 2. mKRAS was associated with increased in vitro resistance to gefitinib.
Conclusions/Significance
Our in vitro studies confirm and extend clinical observations and demonstrate the relative importance of both EGFR mutations and CNGs and HER2 CNGs in the sensitivity to TKIs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004576
PMCID: PMC2642732  PMID: 19238210

Results 1-3 (3)