Objectives: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR, also known as Her1) is a member of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family of proteins and a target of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in the treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) positive for activating mutations ofEGFR. Signal transduction by HER family proteins is dependent on their homo- or heterodimerization, but little is known of the relation between the relative proportions of such dimers of Her1 and sensitivity to EGFR-TKIs. We here investigated the feasibility of assessing this relation with the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA) technique, which is able to detect the interaction of two proteins of interest when they are in close proximity. Materials and methods: In situ PLA was applied to detect Her1 homodimers and Her1 heterodimers in NSCLC cell lines and tissue specimens positive for EGFR activating mutations. Results: In situ PLA allowed visualization and quantitative assessment of Her1 homodimers as well as of Her1 heterodimers with Her2, Her3, or Her4 not only in NSCLC cell lines but also in NSCLC tissue specimens obtained from various anatomic sites and by different collection methods. Treatment of NSCLC cell lines with EGFR-TKIs resulted in a decrease in the number of Her1 dimers, with the effect on homodimers being greater than that on heterodimers. A high ratio of Her1 heterodimers to homodimers was associated with poor progression-free survival in NSCLC patients treated with osimertinib. Conclusion: In situ PLA allows the detection of HER family dimers in NSCLC tissue, and quantitative assessment of Her1 homo- and heterodimers may prove informative for prediction of the response of NSCLC patients to EGFR-TKI treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cancer Research