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Oncogene. 2008 Jul 17;27(31):4336-43. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.71. Epub 2008 Mar 31.

EGFR somatic doublets in lung cancer are frequent and generally arise from a pair of driver mutations uncommonly seen as singlet mutations: one-third of doublets occur at five pairs of amino acids.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010-3000, USA.


Doublet mutations in cancer are not well studied. We find that allelic somatic doublet mutations are present at high frequency in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase (TK) domain in lung cancers. When doublets from the literature are added, a total of 96 doublets are available for analysis. The frequency of doublets overall is 6%, which is sevenfold greater than that observed in normal tissue in mouse. All characterized doublets are allelic, and silent mutations occur rarely. About half of all doublets contain one or two of 12 distinct missense mutations at five amino acids: E709, G719, S768, T790 and L861. The mutations at these five amino acids are seldom reported as singlets. Moreover, when the common L858 target is included, more than one-third of EGFR doublets are one of five specific missense pairs: G719/E709, G719/S768, G719/L861, L858/E709 and L858/T790. Structure suggests function: The data imply that most EGFR doublets are NOT consistent with a 'driver and passenger' mutation mechanism. EGFR doublets are highly skewed relative to singlets, consistent with functional selection of two individually suboptimal mutations that, in combination, have enhanced oncogenic potential.

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