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MO15 - Novel Genes and Pathways (ID 89)
- Event: WCLC 2013
- Type: Mini Oral Abstract Session
- Track: Biology
- Presentations: 1
MO15.08 - KDR (VEGFR-2) copy number gains and mutations are targetable alterations in non-small cell lung cancer (ID 1466)
16:15 - 17:45 | Author(s): X. Tang
Therapeutic regimens targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway have been extensively tested in the treatment of malignancies including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). VEGF pathway inhibitors including bevacizumab or VEGF receptor (VEGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been shown to prolong progression-free survival (PFS) and/or overall survival (OS). These benefits, however, have been modest, occurring only in subsets of patients. Therefore, predictive markers to identify patients likely to derive benefit are critically needed. Although expression of VEGFR-2, also known as KDR, was initially thought to localize primarily on endothelial cells, VEGFR-2 has been detected on malignant cells. We recently observed that KDR copy number gains (CNGs) were detectable by FISH in ~30% of both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and were associated with poor clinical outcome in early stage NSCLC patients treated with adjuvant chemotherapy. In addition to CNGs, mutations and polymorphisms within the KDR gene were also observed. The impact of these alterations is unknown. Here, we investigated KDR CNGs, polymorphisms, and mutations in NSCLC and their effects on sensitivity to VEGFR targeting agents in preclinical models and in NSCLC patients.
Cell migration was evaluated by Boyden chamber assay. NSCLC cell lines were treated with VEGF pathway inhibitors for 24 hours, and protein lysates where collected. HIF-1α levels were evaluated by ELISA assay. VEGFR, p38, and p70s6K were evaluated by Western blotting. Tumor DNA and peripheral blood DNA, were analyzed in duplicate using Affymetrix Genome-Wide SNP Array 6.0. Transformation of Ba/F3 cells was evaluated by an IL-3-independent growth assay.
In tumor cells with KDR CNG, VEGF stimulation induced activation of p38 and p70S6K, and VEGFR TKIs including sorafenib and vandetanib effectively inhibited VEGF-mediated signal transduction. In tumor cell lines with KDR CNG, exogenous VEGF ligand increased cell motility and this was inhibited by VEGFR blockade with TKIs including sunitinib, sorafenib, and axitinib. Various receptor tyrosine kinases have been shown to drive HIF-1α levels, and NSCLC cells with KDR CNG express elevated levels of HIF-1α in normoxia compared to NSCLC cell lines without KDR CNG. In NSCLC cell lines with KDR CNG, VEGFR TKIs decreased protein levels of HIF-1α and HIF-1α regulated proteins. Furthermore, we report a clinical case in which a NSCLC patient with KDR CNG had a partial response to the VEGFR inhibitor, sorafenib. In addition to gene amplification, mutations and polymorphisms within the KDR gene were also observed. KDR mutation 1586A>T and polymorphism 1416A>T effectively transformed Ba/F3 cells. Finally, we report two clinical cases in which NSCLC patients with the 1416A>T polymorphism had a partial response the VEGF pathway inhibitor, bevacizumab.
Collectively, our data indicate that KDR amplification promotes downstream signaling events including activation of the p38, mTOR, and HIF pathways and are targetable by VEGF pathway inhibitors. KDR gene alterations may be predictive markers for VEGF pathway inhibitors.
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P1.01 - Poster Session 1 - Cancer Biology (ID 143)
- Event: WCLC 2013
- Type: Poster Session
- Track: Biology
- Presentations: 1
- Coordinates: 10/28/2013, 09:30 - 16:30, Exhibit Hall, Ground Level
P1.01-003 - Targeting EMT in lung cancer: An integrated analysis of Axl and other mesenchymal targets in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) (ID 1991)
09:30 - 16:30 | Author(s): X. Tang
We previously developed a 76-gene signature of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) that predicted resistance to EGFR and PI3K inhibition in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This analysis also identified Axl, a receptor tyrosine kinase, as a novel target for mesenchymal lung cancers. Here, we conducted an integrated molecular analysis of EMT in resected, treatment-naïve tumors from three clinical cohorts, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) lung adenocarcinomas (LUAD) and squamous cell carcinomas (LUSC), with particular focus on Axl as a potential target in mesenchymal NSCLC.
Using our 76-gene EMT signature, TCGA patient tumors (230 LUAD, 178 LUSC) and a large MDACC cohort of resected tumors (n=279) were assigned an “EMT score.” Expression of >160 total and phosphoproteins were measured in the tumors by reverse phase protein array (RPPA). Proteomic profiles and other molecular markers (including mutation status, miRNA expression, and copy number) were correlated with EMT scores and Axl expression levels.
The EMT score, derived from our EMT signature, identified NSCLC tumors with mesenchymal gene expression signatures (average 23% of tumors across all cohorts, range 14-34%). In both LUAD and LUSC, EMT scores were highly correlated with (1) expression levels of the miR200 family, a group of miRNAs previously known to regulate EMT (p-values <0.001 by Pearson correlation) and (2) levels of proteins central to EMT (e.g., E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, claudin-7, fibronectin; p<0.001 for all). Mesenchymal tumors also had lower expression of TTF1 in LUAD (p=0.0002) and lower p63 in LUSC (p=0.003). Although pEGFR levels were higher in epithelial LUAD tumors (p=0.01), the frequency of EGFR mutations was not significantly higher in this group. EMT score was not associated with smoking status. Consistent with our previous findings in cell lines and patients with advanced NSCLC (BATTLE trial), protein expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl was significantly higher in tumors with mesenchymal signatures (high EMT scores) and with low E-cadherin protein expression (p<0.005 for both). The inverse correlation between tumor E-cadherin and Axl expression was confirmed in an independent group of NSCLC cases by immunohistochemistry. Although a small number of Axl mutations were observed (<3% of tumors), few occurred in the kinase domain and their biological significance is unknown. Other potential therapeutic targets expressed at higher levels in mesenchymal lung cancers included PKC-alpha, NFKB, and FGFR1.
The EMT gene expression signature performed well in the TCGA LUAD, TCGA LUSC, and MDACC cohorts, correlating strongly with established markers of EMT on other data platforms (miRNA and protein). We observed strong protein expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase Axl (as well as other targets) among mesenchymal tumors, supporting further investigation of AXL as a potential EMT target and into the mechanism of its overexpression in NSCLC.