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Cancer Discov. 2011 Dec;1(7):608-25. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-11-0046. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Amplification of CRKL induces transformation and epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor resistance in human non-small cell lung cancers.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


We previously identified a region of recurrent amplification on chromosome 22q11.21 in a subset of primary lung adenocarcinomas. Here we show that CRKL, encoding for an adaptor protein, is amplified and overexpressed in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells that harbor 22q11.21 amplifications. Overexpression of CRKL in immortalized human airway epithelial cells promoted anchorage-independent growth and tumorigenicity. Oncogenic CRKL activates the SOS1-RAS-RAF-ERK and SRC-C3G-RAP1 pathways. Suppression of CRKL in NSCLC cells that harbor CRKL amplifications induced cell death. Overexpression of CRKL in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutant cells induces resistance to gefitinib by activating extracellular signal-regulated kinase and AKT signaling. We identified CRKL amplification in an EGFR inhibitor-treated lung adenocarcinoma that was not present before treatment. These observations demonstrate that CRKL overexpression induces cell transformation, credential CRKL as a therapeutic target for a subset of NSCLC that harbor CRKL amplifications, and implicate CRKL as an additional mechanism of resistance to EGFR-directed therapy.


These studies credential CRKL as an oncogene in a subset of NSCLC. Overexpression of CRKL induces cell transformation and resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor treatment and suggest that therapeutic interventions targeting CRKL may confer a clinical benefit in a defined subset of NSCLCs.

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