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Cancer Discov. 2012 May;2(5):450-7. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-11-0287. Epub 2012 Mar 31.

Kinetics of inhibitor cycling underlie therapeutic disparities between EGFR-driven lung and brain cancers.

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Department of Neurology, Brain Tumor Research Center, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Although mutational activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) features prominently in glioma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), inhibitors of EGFR improve survival only in patients with NCSLC. To understand how mutations in EGFR influence response to therapy, we generated glioma cells expressing either glioma- or NSCLC-derived alleles and quantified kinase-site occupancy by clinical inhibitors with the use of a novel affinity probe and kinetic methodology. At equivalent doses, erlotinib achieved lower kinase-site occupancy in glioma-derived EGFRvIII compared with NSCLC-derived EGFR mutants. Kinase-site occupancy correlated directly with cell-cycle arrest. EGFRvIII released erlotinib rapidly compared with wild-type EGFR, whereas NSCLC-derived mutants released erlotinib slowly.


These data suggest that kinase-site occupancy is a biomarker for efficacy of EGFR inhibitors, that rapid binding and release of erlotinib in glioma-derived EGFRvIII opposes the blockade of downstream signaling, and that slower cycling of erlotinib within the active site of NSCLC-derived mutants underlies their improved clinical response.

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