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Cancer Res. 2007 Mar 1;67(5):2046-53.

Differential constitutive activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor in non-small cell lung cancer cells bearing EGFR gene mutation and amplification.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Kinki University School of Medicine, 377-2 Ohno-higashi, Osaka-Sayama, Osaka 589-8511, Japan.


The identification of somatic mutations in the tyrosine kinase domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and the association of such mutations with the clinical response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), such as gefitinib and erlotinib, have had a substantial effect on the treatment of this disease. EGFR gene amplification has also been associated with an increased therapeutic response to EGFR-TKIs. The effects of these two types of EGFR alteration on EGFR function have remained unclear, however. We have now examined 16 NSCLC cell lines, including eight newly established lines from Japanese NSCLC patients, for the presence of EGFR mutations and amplification. Four of the six cell lines that harbor EGFR mutations were found to be positive for EGFR amplification, whereas none of the 10 cell lines negative for EGFR mutation manifested EGFR amplification, suggesting that these two types of EGFR alteration are closely associated. Endogenous EGFRs expressed in NSCLC cell lines positive for both EGFR mutation and amplification were found to be constitutively activated as a result of ligand-independent dimerization. Furthermore, the patterns of both EGFR amplification and EGFR autophosphorylation were shown to differ between cell lines harboring the two most common types of EGFR mutation (exon 19 deletion and L858R point mutation in exon 21). These results reveal distinct biochemical properties of endogenous mutant forms of EGFR expressed in NSCLC cell lines and may have implications for treatment of this condition.

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