Gene Summary

Gene:EML4; echinoderm microtubule associated protein like 4
Aliases: C2orf2, ELP120, EMAP-4, EMAPL4, ROPP120
Summary:This gene is a member of the echinoderm microtubule associated protein-like family. The encoded WD-repeat protein may be involved in microtubule formation. Abnormal fusion of parts of this gene with portions of the anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase gene, which generates EML4-ALK fusion transcripts, is one of the primary mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer. Alternative splicing of this gene results in two transcript variants. [provided by RefSeq, Jan 2015]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (5)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Staging
  • Individualized Medicine
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism
  • Lung Cancer
  • Base Sequence
  • Drug Resistance
  • FISH
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Tissue Array Analysis
  • X-Ray Computed Tomography
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Quinazolines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Oncogene Fusion Proteins
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult
  • Mutation
  • Messenger RNA
  • Estrogen Receptors
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Exons
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Pyrazoles
  • Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • ALK
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Chromosome 2
Tag cloud generated 17 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: EML4 (cancer-related)

Morodomi Y, Okamoto T, Kohno M, et al.
Associations between driver gene mutations and cytotoxic chemosensitivity in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(3):1791-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations or echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (EML4-ALK) rearrangement often have a better prognosis when they are treated with specific inhibitors than when treated with cytotoxic agents. However, the associations between gene mutations and cytotoxic chemosensitivity are still unclear. The objective of the present study was to identify which clinicopathological factors, including genetic mutations, influence chemosensitivity, determined using the succinate dehydrogenase inhibition (SDI) test in patients with NSCLC.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The chemosensitivity of tumor tissues from 96 patients with NSCLC who underwent surgical resection was evaluated using the SDI test.
RESULTS: In patients with adenocarcinoma, tumors with EGFR gene mutations were significantly more sensitive to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) than tumors without EGFR gene mutations (p<0.0149).
CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that patients with adenocarcinoma harboring EGFR gene mutations may be susceptible to 5-FU.

Richards MW, O'Regan L, Roth D, et al.
Microtubule association of EML proteins and the EML4-ALK variant 3 oncoprotein require an N-terminal trimerization domain.
Biochem J. 2015; 467(3):529-36 [PubMed] Related Publications
Proteins of the echinoderm microtubule (MT)-associated protein (EMAP)-like (EML) family contribute to formation of the mitotic spindle and interphase MT network. EML1-4 consist of Trp-Asp 40 (WD40) repeats and an N-terminal region containing a putative coiled-coil. Recurrent gene rearrangements in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) fuse EML4 to anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) causing expression of several oncogenic fusion variants. The fusions have constitutive ALK activity due to self-association through the EML4 coiled-coil. We have determined crystal structures of the coiled-coils from EML2 and EML4, which describe the structural basis of both EML self-association and oncogenic EML4-ALK activation. The structures reveal a trimeric oligomerization state directed by a conserved pattern of hydrophobic residues and salt bridges. We show that the trimerization domain (TD) of EML1 is necessary and sufficient for self-association. The TD is also essential for MT binding; however, this property requires an adjacent basic region. These observations prompted us to investigate MT association of EML4-ALK and EML1-ABL1 (Abelson 1) fusions in which variable portions of the EML component are present. Uniquely, EML4-ALK variant 3, which includes the TD and basic region of EML4 but none of the WD40 repeats, was localized to MTs, both when expressed recombinantly and when expressed in a patient-derived NSCLC cell line (H2228). This raises the question of whether the mislocalization of ALK activity to MTs might influence downstream signalling and malignant properties of cells. Furthermore, the structure of EML4 TD may enable the development of protein-protein interaction inhibitors targeting the trimerization interface, providing a possible avenue towards therapeutic intervention in EML4-ALK NSCLC.

Guo F, Liu X, Qing Q, et al.
EML4-ALK induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition consistent with cancer stem cell properties in H1299 non-small cell lung cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 459(3):398-404 [PubMed] Related Publications
The echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4(EML4)--anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion gene has been identified as a driver mutation in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the role of EML4-ALK in malignant transformation is not entirely clear. Here, for the first time, we showed that H1299 NSCLC cells stably expressing EML4-ALK acquire EMT phenotype, associated with enhanced invasive migration and increased expression of EMT-inducing transcription factors. H1299-EML4-ALK cells also displayed cancer stem cell-like properties with a concomitant up-regulation of CD133 and enhanced ability of mammospheres formation. Moreover, we found that inhibition of ERK1/2 reversed EMT induced by EML4-ALK in H1299 cells. Taken together, these results suggested that EML4-ALK induced ERK activation is mechanistically associated with EMT phenotype. Thus, inhibition of ERK signaling pathway could be a potential strategy in treatment of NSCLC patients with EML4-ALK translocation.

Pekar-Zlotin M, Hirsch FR, Soussan-Gutman L, et al.
Fluorescence in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and next-generation sequencing for detection of EML4-ALK rearrangement in lung cancer.
Oncologist. 2015; 20(3):316-22 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved method for detecting EML4-ALK rearrangement is fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH); however, data supporting the use of immunohistochemistry (IHC) for that purpose are accumulating. Previous studies that compared FISH and IHC considered FISH the gold standard, but none compared data with the results of next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied FISH and IHC (D5F3 antibody) systematically for EML4-ALK rearrangement in 51 lung adenocarcinoma patients, followed by NGS in case of discordance.
RESULTS: Of 51 patients, 4 were positive with FISH (7.8%), and 8 were positive with IHC (15.7%). Three were positive with both. NGS confirmed that four of the five patients who were positive with IHC and negative with FISH were positive for ALK. Two were treated by crizotinib, with progression-free survival of 18 and 6 months. Considering NGS as the most accurate test, the sensitivity and specificity were 42.9% and 97.7%, respectively, for FISH and 100% and 97.7%, respectively, for IHC.
CONCLUSION: The FISH-based method of detecting EML4-ALK rearrangement in lung cancer may miss a significant number of patients who could benefit from targeted ALK therapy. Screening for EML4-ALK rearrangement by IHC should be strongly considered, and NGS is recommended in borderline cases. Two patients who were negative with FISH and positive with IHC were treated with crizotinib and responded to therapy.

Dai Y, Wei Q, Schwager C, et al.
Synergistic effects of crizotinib and radiotherapy in experimental EML4-ALK fusion positive lung cancer.
Radiother Oncol. 2015; 114(2):173-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with chromosomal rearrangements of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene (ALK) are sensitive to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor crizotinib. We aimed to investigate the effects of combined radiotherapy and crizotinib in ALK-positive vs. wild type NSCLC models.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Clonogenic survival, proliferation and apoptosis of cells exposed to crizotinib and radiotherapy (photon and carbon ions) were evaluated in ALK mutation positive (ALK+; H3122) and negative (ALK-; A549 and LLC) NSCLC lines. The syngeneic mouse (LLC) and human (H3122) xenograft tumor models were further studied in vivo. Tumor growth kinetics, microvascular density (MVD), perfusion and proliferation were assessed.
RESULTS: Crizotinib exerted potent and selective anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in ALK+ H3122 cells which were augmented by radiotherapy. The synergistic effect of this combination in ALK+ NSCLC was confirmed by isobologram analysis. Crizotinib also sensitized H3122 cells to particle therapy with carbon ions. In H3122 xenografts, dual combination was most effective in reducing tumor proliferation, MVD and perfusion. In contrast, in the LLC model, crizotinib led only to a transient tumor growth inhibition and combined treatment was inferior to radiotherapy alone.
CONCLUSIONS: Crizotinib elicits beneficial effects in combination with radiotherapy only in ALK-positive NSCLC.

Nanjo S, Nakagawa T, Takeuchi S, et al.
In vivo imaging models of bone and brain metastases and pleural carcinomatosis with a novel human EML4-ALK lung cancer cell line.
Cancer Sci. 2015; 106(3):244-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
EML4-ALK lung cancer accounts for approximately 3-7% of non-small-cell lung cancer cases. To investigate the molecular mechanism underlying tumor progression and targeted drug sensitivity/resistance in EML4-ALK lung cancer, clinically relevant animal models are indispensable. In this study, we found that the lung adenocarcinoma cell line A925L expresses an EML4-ALK gene fusion (variant 5a, E2:A20) and is sensitive to the ALK inhibitors crizotinib and alectinib. We further established highly tumorigenic A925LPE3 cells, which also have the EML4-ALK gene fusion (variant 5a) and are sensitive to ALK inhibitors. By using A925LPE3 cells with luciferase gene transfection, we established in vivo imaging models for pleural carcinomatosis, bone metastasis, and brain metastasis, all of which are significant clinical concerns of advanced EML4-ALK lung cancer. Interestingly, crizotinib caused tumors to shrink in the pleural carcinomatosis model, but not in bone and brain metastasis models, whereas alectinib showed remarkable efficacy in all three models, indicative of the clinical efficacy of these ALK inhibitors. Our in vivo imaging models of multiple organ sites may provide useful resources to analyze further the pathogenesis of EML4-ALK lung cancer and its response and resistance to ALK inhibitors in various organ microenvironments.

Kalia M
Biomarkers for personalized oncology: recent advances and future challenges.
Metabolism. 2015; 64(3 Suppl 1):S16-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells and oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with tumors. The last decade has seen significant advances in the development of biomarkers in oncology that play a critical role in understanding molecular and cellular mechanisms which drive tumor initiation, maintenance and progression. Clinical molecular diagnostics and biomarker discoveries in oncology are advancing rapidly as we begin to understand the complex mechanisms that transform a normal cell into an abnormal one. These discoveries have fueled the development of novel drug targets and new treatment strategies. The standard of care for patients with advanced-stage cancers has shifted away from an empirical treatment strategy based on the clinical-pathological profile to one where a biomarker driven treatment algorithm based on the molecular profile of the tumor is used. Recent advances in multiplex genotyping technologies and high-throughput genomic profiling by next-generation sequencing make possible the rapid and comprehensive analysis of the cancer genome of individual patients even from very little tumor biopsy material. Predictive (diagnostic) biomarkers are helpful in matching targeted therapies with patients and in preventing toxicity of standard (systemic) therapies. Prognostic biomarkers identify somatic germ line mutations, changes in DNA methylation, elevated levels of microRNA (miRNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTC) in blood. Predictive biomarkers using molecular diagnostics are currently in use in clinical practice of personalized oncotherapy for the treatment of five diseases: chronic myeloid leukemia, colon, breast, lung cancer and melanoma and these biomarkers are being used successfully to evaluate benefits that can be achieved through targeted therapy. Examples of these molecularly targeted biomarker therapies are: tyrosine kinase inhibitors in chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal tumors; anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitors in lung cancer with EML4-ALk fusion; HER2/neu blockage in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer; and epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) inhibition in EGFR-mutated lung cancer. This review presents the current state of our knowledge of biomarkers in five selected cancers: chronic myeloid leukemia, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma.

Blasco RB, Karaca E, Ambrogio C, et al.
Simple and rapid in vivo generation of chromosomal rearrangements using CRISPR/Cas9 technology.
Cell Rep. 2014; 9(4):1219-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
Generation of genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) for chromosomal translocations in the endogenous loci by a knockin strategy is lengthy and costly. The CRISPR/Cas9 system provides an innovative and flexible approach for genome engineering of genomic loci in vitro and in vivo. Here, we report the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for engineering a specific chromosomal translocation in adult mice in vivo. We designed CRISPR/Cas9 lentiviral vectors to induce cleavage of the murine endogenous Eml4 and Alk loci in order to generate the Eml4-Alk gene rearrangement recurrently found in non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). Intratracheal or intrapulmonary inoculation of lentiviruses induced Eml4-Alk gene rearrangement in lung cells in vivo. Genomic and mRNA sequencing confirmed the genome editing and the production of the Eml4-Alk fusion transcript. All mice developed Eml4-Alk-rearranged lung tumors 2 months after the inoculation, demonstrating that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is a feasible and simple method for the generation of chromosomal rearrangements in vivo.

Guo Y, Ma J, Lyu X, et al.
Non-small cell lung cancer with EML4-ALK translocation in Chinese male never-smokers is characterized with early-onset.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:834 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The translocations of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene with the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4) gene on chromosome 2p have been identified in non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) as oncogenic driver mutations. It has been suggested that EML4-ALK fusion is associated with the resistance in NSCLCs to epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR TKIs), such as gefitinib and erlotinib. In contrast, ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor (ALK TKI) crizotinib has shown superior effects in combating NSCLCs with EML4-ALK. Thus, characterization of EML4-ALK fusion genes and clinical features of resulting carcinomas would be a great benefit to disease diagnosis and designing customized treatment plans. Studies have suggested that EML4-ALK translocation occurs more frequently in never-smokers with NSCLC, especially in female patients. However, it is not clear whether this is the case in male patients, too. In this study, we have determined the frequency of EML4-ALK translocation in male never-smokers with NSCLC in a cohort of Chinese patients. The clinical features associated with EML4-ALK translocation were also investigated.
METHODS: A cohort of 95 Chinese male never-smokers with NSCLC was enrolled in this study. EML4-ALK fusion genes were detected using one-step real time RT-PCR and DNA sequencing. We further determined the expression levels of ALK mRNA by RT-PCR and ALK protein by immunohistochemistry in these specimens. The clinical features of EML4-ALK-positive carcinomas were also determined.
RESULTS: We have identified EML4-ALK fusion genes in 8 out of 95 carcinoma cases, accounting for 8.42% in Chinese male never-smokers with NSCLC. It is significantly higher than that in all Chinese male patients (3.44%) regardless smoking habit. It is also significantly higher than that in all Chinese smokers (8/356 or 2.25%) or in smokers worldwide (2.9%) by comparing to published data. Interestingly, EML4-ALK fusion genes are more frequently found in younger patients and associated with less-differentiated carcinomas.
CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of EML4-ALK translocation is strongly associated with smoking habits in Chinese male patients with higher frequency in male never-smokers. EML4-ALK translocation is associated with early-onset and less-differentiated carcinomas.

Wang Y, Wang S, Xu S, et al.
Clinicopathologic features of patients with non-small cell lung cancer harboring the EML4-ALK fusion gene: a meta-analysis.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(10):e110617 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The frequencies of EML4-ALK fusion gene in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with different clinicopathologic features described by previous studies are inconsistent. The key demographic and pathologic features associated with EML4-ALK fusion gene have not been definitively established. This meta-analysis was conducted to compare the frequency of the EML4-ALK fusion gene in patients with different clinicopathologic features and to identify an enriched population of patients with NSCLC harboring EML4-ALK fusion gene.
METHODS: The Pubmed and Embase databases for all studies on EML4-ALK fusion gene in NSCLC patients were searched up to July 2014. A criteria list and exclusion criteria were established to screen the studies. The frequency of the EML4-ALK fusion gene and the clinicopathologic features, including smoking status, pathologic type, gender, and EGFR status were abstracted.
RESULTS: Seventeen articles consisting of 4511 NSCLC cases were included in this meta-analysis. A significant lower EML4-ALK fusion gene positive rate was associated with smokers (pooled OR = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.30-0.54, P<0.00001). A significantly higher EML4-ALK fusion gene positivity rate was associated with adenocarcinomas (pooled OR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.66-3.86, P<0.0001) and female (pooled OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.41-0.90, P = 0.01). We found that a significantly lower EML4-ALK fusion gene positivity rate was associated with EGFR mutation (pooled OR = 0.07, 95% CI = 0.03-0.19, P<0.00001). No publication bias was observed in any meta-analysis (all P value of Egger's test >0.05); however, because of the small sample size, no results were in the meta-analysis regarding EGFR gene status.
CONCLUSION: This meta-analysis revealed that the EML4-ALK fusion gene is highly correlated with a never/light smoking history, female and the pathologic type of adenocarcinoma, and is largely mutually exclusive of EGFR.

Kenmotsu H, Serizawa M, Koh Y, et al.
Prospective genetic profiling of squamous cell lung cancer and adenosquamous carcinoma in Japanese patients by multitarget assays.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:786 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Despite considerable recent progress in the treatment of lung adenocarcinoma, there has been little progress in the development of efficacious molecular targeted therapies for squamous cell lung cancer. In addition to the recent comprehensive genome-wide characterization of squamous cell lung cancer, it is also important to genotype this form of cancer. We therefore conducted the Shizuoka Lung Cancer Mutation Study to analyze driver mutations in patients with thoracic malignancies. Here we report the results of genotyping in patients with squamous cell lung cancer.
METHODS: Based on the biobanking system, in conjunction with the clinic and pathology lab, we developed a genotyping panel designed to assess 24 mutations in 10 genes (EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, NRAS, MEK1, AKT1, PTEN, HER2 and DDR2), EGFR, MET, PIK3CA, FGFR1 and FGFR2 copy numbers, and EML4-ALK and ROS1 translocations, using pyrosequencing plus capillary electrophoresis, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse-transcription PCR, respectively.
RESULTS: A total of 129 patients with squamous cell lung cancer and adenosquamous carcinoma were enrolled in this study between July 2011 and November 2012. We detected genetic alterations in 40% of all cases. Gene alterations included: EGFR mutations, 6%; KRAS mutations, 4%; PIK3CA mutations, 13%; NRAS mutations, 1%; KIF5b-RET fusion gene, 1%; EGFR copy number gain, 5%; PIK3CA copy number gain, 15%; and FGFR1 copy number gain, 5%. Twelve patients (9%) harbored simultaneous genetic alterations. Genetic alterations were detected more frequently in surgically-resected, snap-frozen samples than in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples (50% vs. 29%). In addition, patients aged ≤70 years old and never-smokers showed high frequencies of genetic alterations.
CONCLUSIONS: This study represents one of the largest prospective tumor-genotyping studies to be performed in Asian patients with squamous cell lung cancer. These results suggest that incorporation of genetic profiling into lung cancer clinical practice may facilitate the administration of personalized cancer treatments in patients with squamous cell lung cancer.

Bearz A, Santarossa S, Manfrè A, et al.
Activity of crizotinib over choroidal metastases in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)-ALK rearranged: a case report.
BMC Res Notes. 2014; 7:589 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adenocarcinoma of the lung with EML4-ALK translocation is a rare subtype of Non Small-Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) that has recently shown to benefit from treatment with crizotinib. Despite the concerns about the efficacy of crizotinib over cerebral metastases, some reports have described its activity, although always after local treatment with radiotherapy. Recently it has been reported activity of crizotinib over choroidal metastases, again after radiotherapy.
CASE PRESENTATION: Herein we report a case of activity of crizotinib over choroidal metastases not previously treated with radiotherapy.
CONCLUSION: We suggest crizotinib may be active over choroidal metastases in a patient harboring ALK translocation with no need of radiotherapy.

Isozaki H, Yasugi M, Takigawa N, et al.
A new human lung adenocarcinoma cell line harboring the EML4-ALK fusion gene.
Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2014; 44(10):963-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: The echinoderm microtubule associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion gene was identified in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. To the best of our knowledge, there are only three cell lines harboring the EML4-ALK fusion gene, which have contributed to the development of therapeutic strategies. Therefore, we tried to establish a new lung cancer cell line harboring EML4-ALK.
METHODS: A 61-year-old Japanese female presented with chest discomfort. She was diagnosed with left lung adenocarcinoma with T4N3M1 Stage IV. Although she was treated with chemotherapy, her disease progressed with massive pleural effusion. Because the EML4-ALK rearrangement was found in a biopsied specimen using fluorescence in situ hybridization, she was treated with crizotinib. She did well for 3 months.
RESULTS: Tumor cells were obtained from the malignant pleural effusion before treatment with crizotinib. Cells continued to proliferate substantially for several weeks. The cell line was designated ABC-11. The EML4-ALK fusion protein and genes were identified in ABC-11 cells using fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, respectively. ABC-11 cells were sensitive to crizotinib and next-generation ALK inhibitors (ceritinib and AP26113), as determined by a 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Phosphorylated ALK protein and its downstream signaling were suppressed by treatment with crizotinib in western blotting. Furthermore, we could transplant ABC-11 cells subcutaneously into BALB/c nu/nu mice.
CONCLUSIONS: We successfully established a new lung adenocarcinoma cell line harboring the EML4-ALK fusion gene. This cell line could contribute to future research of EML4-ALK-positive lung cancer both in vivo and in vitro.

Chen YF, Hsieh MS, Wu SG, et al.
Clinical and the prognostic characteristics of lung adenocarcinoma patients with ROS1 fusion in comparison with other driver mutations in East Asian populations.
J Thorac Oncol. 2014; 9(8):1171-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The prevalence, demographic features, and clinical outcomes of lung adenocarcinoma patients with novel ROS1 oncogenic rearrangement in East Asian populations are not clear. This study aimed to investigate the clinical and prognostic characteristics of lung adenocarcinoma in patients with ROS1 fusion compared with other driver mutations.
METHODS: Multiplex reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction was used to detect the ROS1 fusion gene in lung adenocarcinoma cases. Immunohistochemistry was used to confirm the expression of ROS1. The demographic data and clinical outcomes of patients with the ROS1 fusion gene were compared with those of patients without the ROS1 fusion gene, including those with the EGFR mutation, EML4-ALK fusion, KRAS mutation, and quadruple-negative patients.
RESULTS: Of 492 patients with lung adenocarcinoma, 12 (2.4%) had the ROS1 fusion gene. Their median age was 45.0 years, significantly younger than that of the ROS1 fusion-negative cohorts (p < 0.001). Acinar (including cribriform) and solid patterns were the two most common histologic subtypes in the ROS1 fusion tumors (7 of 12, 58.3%) and were predominantly seen in CD74-ROS1 fusion tumors (66.7%). There was no significant survival difference between the ROS1 fusion-positive and ROS1 fusion-negative cohorts in surgical group, but ROS1 fusion-positive patients might have worse outcomes than EGFR-mutant patients in the stage IV group.
CONCLUSIONS: The ROS1 fusion gene can be successfully detected in East Asian patients with lung adenocarcinoma using multiplex reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. These patients tend to be younger and have characteristic histologic subtypes. Due to the small number of ROS1 fusion patients, the prognostic value of ROS1 fusion need further studies to confirm.

Schrödl K, von Schilling C, Tufman A, et al.
Response to chemotherapy, reexposure to crizotinib and treatment with a novel ALK inhibitor in a patient with acquired crizotinib resistance.
Respiration. 2014; 88(3):262-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
The treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has dramatically changed over the last decade. It has developed from an unspecific approach based on platinum doublet chemotherapy to a personalized, molecularly targeted therapy. Crizotinib is a new tyrosine kinase inhibitor approved for the treatment of NSCLC with gene rearrangement of EML4 and ALK. Despite good initial responses, patients treated with crizotinib relapse after an average of 10 months. In this case report, we present a patient with acquired crizotinib resistance whose adenocarcinoma responded to a second course of crizotinib following a drug holiday and chemotherapy with pemetrexed. This is the second case report to suggest that retreatment with crizotinib is an option for patients with initial benefit from ALK inhibition.

Kogita A, Togashi Y, Hayashi H, et al.
Hypoxia induces resistance to ALK inhibitors in the H3122 non-small cell lung cancer cell line with an ALK rearrangement via epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Int J Oncol. 2014; 45(4):1430-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) rearrangements generally respond to ALK inhibitors such as crizotinib. However, some patients with EML4-ALK rearrangements respond poorly to crizotinib. Hypoxia is involved in the resistance to chemotherapeutic treatments in several cancers, and we investigated the association between the responses to ALK inhibitors and hypoxia. Sensitivity of the H3122 NSCLC cell line (EML4-ALK rearrangement) to ALK inhibitors (crizotinib or alectinib) was investigated during a normoxic or hypoxic state using an MTT assay. We found that the cell line was resistant to the inhibitors during hypoxia. Hypoxia mediated morphologic changes, including cell scattering and the elongation of the cell shape, that are characteristic of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). A migration assay demonstrated that the number of migrating cells increased significantly during hypoxia, compared with during normoxia. Regarding EMT-related molecules, the expressions of slug, vimentin, and fibronectin were increased while that of E-cadherin was decreased by hypoxia. In addition, hypoxia inducible factor 1A-knockdown cancelled the hypoxia-induced EMT and resistance. Our findings indicate that hypoxia induces resistance to ALK inhibitors in NSCLC with an EML4-ALK rearrangement via the EMT.

Rolfo C, Passiglia F, Russo A, Pauwels P
Looking for a new panacea in ALK-rearranged NSCLC: may be Ceritinib?
Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2014; 18(9):983-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
In the past decade, the advent of targeted therapy led to a silent revolution in the war against lung cancer and a significant evolution on the concept of Phase I clinical trials design. Thanks to the specificity of their target, the new drugs have radically changed NSCLC treatment, leading to the development of personalized strategies. The accelerated approval of the first ALK-inhibitor, Crizotinib and more recently Ceritinib, without a Phase III randomized, clinical trial, has been an amazing success story in lung cancer research, marking the beginning of a new decade of targeted drugs development, characterized by modern, biomarker-driven, early clinical trial design and shorter times for clinical approval. Is Ceritinib a new panacea for the treatment of ALK-rearranged NSCLC? We aimed to discuss the reasons of such success, including the new emerging questions, regarding mechanisms of acquired resistance, and the best treatment algorithm for ALK-rearranged NSCLC patients.

Morodomi Y, Takenoyama M, Inamasu E, et al.
Non-small cell lung cancer patients with EML4-ALK fusion gene are insensitive to cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Anticancer Res. 2014; 34(7):3825-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Although patients with the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene (EML4-ALK) re-arrangement and epidermal growth factor gene EGFR mutations have proven sensitive to specific inhibitors, there is currently no consensus regarding the sensitivity of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with such mutations to cytotoxic chemotherapy.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: The responses to first-line cytotoxic chemotherapy were retrospectively compared between advanced or postoperative recurrent patients with non-squamous NSCLC who harbor the EML4-ALK fusion gene (ALK+), EGFR mutation (EGFR+), or neither abnormality (wild-type).
RESULTS: Data for 22 ALK+, 30 EGFR+, and 60 wild-type patients were analyzed. The ALK+ group had a significantly lower response rate than the other two groups. Progression-free survival was significantly shorter in the ALK+ cohort compared to the EGFR+ (p<0.001) and wild-type cohorts (p=0.0121).
CONCLUSION: NSCLC patients with the EML4-ALK fusion gene might be relatively insensitivite to cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Yang L, Li G, Zhao L, et al.
Blocking the PI3K pathway enhances the efficacy of ALK-targeted therapy in EML4-ALK-positive nonsmall-cell lung cancer.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(10):9759-67 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeted therapy based on ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitors (ALK-TKIs) has made significant achievements in individuals with EML4-ALK (echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 gene and the anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene) fusion positive nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, a high fraction of patients receive inferior clinical response to such treatment in the initial therapy, and the exact mechanisms underlying this process need to be further investigated. In this study, we revealed a persistently activated PI3K/AKT signaling that mediates the drug ineffectiveness. We found that genetic or pharmacological inhibition of ALK markedly abrogated phosphorylated STAT3 and ERK, but it failed to suppress AKT activity or induce apoptosis, in EML4-ALK-positive H2228 cells. Furthermore, targeted RNA interference of PI3K pathway components restored sensitivity to TAE684 treatment at least partially due to increased apoptosis. Combined TAE684 with PI3K inhibitor synergistically inhibited the proliferation of EML4-ALK-positive cells in vitro and significantly suppressed the growth of H2228 xenografts in vivo, suggesting the potential clinical application of such combinatorial therapy regimens in patients with EML4-ALK positive lung cancer.

Akamatsu H, Koh Y, Kenmotsu H, et al.
Multiplexed molecular profiling of lung cancer using pleural effusion.
J Thorac Oncol. 2014; 9(7):1048-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Pleural effusion is frequently observed in patients with advanced lung cancer. Although effusion can be obtained less invasively and repeatedly, its use in multiplexed molecular profiling has not been fully investigated.
METHODS: Between July 2011 and April 2013, pleural effusion samples were obtained from patients with lung cancer at Shizuoka Cancer Center. They were analyzed for EGFR, KRAS, BRAF, PIK3CA, NRAS, MEK1, AKT1, PTEN, and HER2 mutations, EGFR, MET, FGFR1, FGFR2, and PIK3CA amplifications, and ALK, ROS1, and RET fusion genes using pyrosequensing and/or capillary electrophoresis, quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, respectively.
RESULTS: One hundred and two samples from 84 patients were analyzed. Adenocarcinoma was the most common histological subtype (82%). Genetic abnormalities were detected in 42% of patients. The most common abnormality was EGFR mutation (29%), followed by EML4-ALK rearrangement (5%), KRAS mutation, and EGFR amplification (4%, each). Concordance rates between pleural effusion and matched formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples were 88%. Among 11 patients who provided samples at multiple time points, changes in molecular profile over the course of treatment were observed in five patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of pleural effusion for multiplexed molecular testing and real-time monitoring in lung cancer was demonstrated.

Gow CH, Wu SG, Chang YL, Shih JY
Multidriver mutation analysis in pulmonary mucinous adenocarcinoma in Taiwan: identification of a rare CD74-NRG1 translocation case.
Med Oncol. 2014; 31(7):34 [PubMed] Related Publications
Several new chromosomal translocations resulting in driver fusion mutations have recently been discovered in non-small-cell lung cancer. The driver mutational patterns in pulmonary mucinous adenocarcinoma, a rare subtype of non-small-cell lung cancer, have not been well studied. A single-institute cohort study in Taiwan was performed to determine the mutations of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS), fusions of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), c-ros oncogene 1 (ROS1), and neuregulin 1 (NRG1) in patients diagnosed with pulmonary mucinous adenocarcinoma. We also examined NRG1 translocation in patients diagnosed as adenocarcinoma of other subtypes with wild-type EGFR, KRAS, ALK, and ROS1 genes. Surgical or biopsy specimens were collected from 13 patients with mucinous adenocarcinoma. Using the direct RNA sequencing method, we discovered a rare CD74-NRG1 fusion (8 %), an echinoderm microtubule-associated protein like 4 (EML4)-ALK fusion (17 %), and three KRAS mutations (25 %). No EGFR mutations or ROS1 rearrangements were detected. The rare CD74-NRG1 fusion positive patient presented with uncommon radiological features. We did not detect any CD74-NRG1 fusion in the 109 adenocarcinoma of other subtypes, which were all negative for EGFR, KRAS, ALK, and ROS1. The CD74-NRG1 fusion mutation is rare and may be exclusively present in patients with pulmonary mucinous adenocarcinoma. Patients harboring CD74-NRG1 positive tumors may present with uncommon imaging features.

Alì G, Proietti A, Pelliccioni S, et al.
ALK rearrangement in a large series of consecutive non-small cell lung cancers: comparison between a new immunohistochemical approach and fluorescence in situ hybridization for the screening of patients eligible for crizotinib treatment.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2014; 138(11):1449-58 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Echinoderm microtubule associated proteinlike 4-anaplastic lymphoma receptor tyrosine kinase (EML4-ALK) translocation has been described in a subset of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and has been shown to have oncogenic activity. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is used to detect ALK-positive NSCLC, but it is expensive, time-consuming, and difficult for routine application.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the potential role of immunohistochemistry (IHC) as a screening tool to identify candidate cases for FISH analysis and for ALK inhibitor therapy in NSCLC.
DESIGN: We performed FISH and IHC for ALK and mutational analysis for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and KRAS in 523 NSCLC specimens. We conducted IHC analysis with the monoclonal antibody D5F3 (Ventana Medical Systems, Tucson, Arizona) and a highly sensitive detection system. We also performed a MassARRAY-based analysis (Sequenom, San Diego, California) in a small subset of 11 samples to detect EML4-ALK rearrangement.
RESULTS: Of the 523 NSCLC specimens, 20 (3.8%) were positive for ALK rearrangement by FISH analysis. EGFR and KRAS mutations were identified in 70 (13.4%) and 124 (23.7%) of the 523 tumor samples, respectively. ALK rearrangement and EGFR and KRAS mutations were mutually exclusive. Of 523 tumor samples analyzed, 18 (3.4%) were ALK(+) by IHC, 18 samples (3.4%) had concordant IHC and FISH results, and 2 ALK(+) cases (0.3%) by FISH failed to show ALK protein expression. In the 2 discrepant cases, we did not detect any mass peaks for the EML4-ALK variants by MassARRAY.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that IHC may be a useful technique for selecting NSCLC cases to undergo ALK FISH analysis.

Wang Q, He Y, Yang X, et al.
Extraordinary response to crizotinib in a woman with squamous cell lung cancer after two courses of failed chemotherapy.
BMC Pulm Med. 2014; 14:83 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The discovery of the fusion gene echinodermmicro tubule associated proteinlike 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase, EML4-ALK, in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer has led to the remarkable development of anaplastic lymphoma kinase inhibitors, such as crizotinib. Consequently, the clinical outcomes of these patients have improved dramatically. Herein, we report the case of a woman with ALK gene translocation-squamous cell lung cancer who experienced a remarkable tumor response to crizotinib after two courses of failed chemotherapy.
CASE PRESENTATION: A 55-year-old Chinese woman was diagnosed with cervical lymph node metastatic squamous carcinoma. Chest computed tomography scan showed the primary tumor in the lower lobe of the right lung. The patient had received two successive courses of first-line chemotherapy without tumor response. Tumor cells were negative for wild-type of epidermal growth factor receptor/K-RAS variants; thus, she was not eligible for tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. Unfortunately, increased levels of interleukin-6 and carcinoembryonic antigen, and computed tomography scan results indicated cancer progression. Once crizotinib was approved by the China Food and Drug Administration and the ALK gene translocation was identified in tumor cells by fluorescent in situ hybridization, the patient commenced treatment with crizotinib. Remarkably, the tumor response to crizotinib was classified as partial response after only 26 days of treatment commencement. The partial response status has been maintained to date (23 weeks).
CONCLUSION: Considering this remarkable response to crizotinib, we can safely conclude that patients with squamous cell lung cancer should have the option of undergoing ALK testing to determine if there is indication for crizotinib treatment even after they have failed chemotherapy.

Demidova I, Barinov A, Savelov N, et al.
Immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for the detection of anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene rearrangements in patients with non-small cell lung cancer: potential advantages and methodologic pitfalls.
Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2014; 138(6):794-802 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 gene (EML4) and anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene (ALK) fusion was shown to be the driver of tumorigenesis in approximately 3% to 5% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and is associated with response to inhibition with crizotinib. However, no complete agreement regarding the best diagnostic test for identification of ALK rearrangements has been achieved yet.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the concordance, sensitivity, and specificity of immunohistochemistry (IHC), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for detection of ALK rearrangements.
DESIGN: Thirty-six prospectively tested patients with NSCLC who had adenocarcinoma and 10 ALK-positive samples were included in the study. All samples were tested by IHC (ALK1 clone, 5A4 clone, D5F3 clone), FISH (LSI ALK Break Apart and ALK FISH Probe), and multiplexed RT-PCR.
RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry staining was successful in all samples.. Clone D5F3 showed the best sensitivity and specificity of 100%; clones ALK1 and 5A4 showed sensitivities of 91% with specificity of 100%. Both FISH probes showed concordance with sensitivity and specificity of 100%. Hybridization and RT-PCR were successful in 98% and 93.4% of samples, respectively, with sensitivity of 88% and specificity of 100%. Frequent artifacts leading to misinterpretation were observed with all 3 methodologies.
CONCLUSIONS: All 3 methodologies showed good sensitivity, specificity, and concordance, when artifacts were characterized and excluded. However, all ambiguous cases have to be confirmed as ALK rearranged by at least 2 of the 3 methods.

Tachihara M, Kobayashi K, Ishikawa Y, et al.
Successful crizotinib rechallenge after crizotinib-induced interstitial lung disease.
Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2014; 44(8):762-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
We report the case of a 70-year-old Japanese male diagnosed with advanced lung adenocarcinoma harboring the echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-anaplastic lymphoma kinase fusion gene. As soon as crizotinib was administered, tumor shrank immediately. On Day 25, he developed interstitial lung disease. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid analysis demonstrated elevated lymphocytes fractionation. A drug lymphocyte stimulating test for crizotinib with the bronchoalveolar lavage lymphocytes was negative. Crizotinib administration was discontinued, but a life-threatening flare of tumor growth occurred. Since there was no alternative treatment for the lung cancer, we restarted crizotinib in combination with prednisolone. The patient experienced neither disease progression nor recurrence of interstitial lung disease at 6 months. In cases in which no alternate treatment is known, crizotinib retreatment combined with steroid therapy after crizotinib-induced interstitial lung disease could be considered after a careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits.

Yoshimura M, Tada Y, Ofuzi K, et al.
Identification of a novel HLA-A 02:01-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitope derived from the EML4-ALK fusion gene.
Oncol Rep. 2014; 32(1):33-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/03/2016 Related Publications
Cancer immunotherapy is a promising new approach to cancer treatment. It has been demonstrated that a high number of tumor-specific cytotoxic T cells (CTLs) is associated with increased disease-specific survival in lung cancer patients. Identification of superior CTL epitopes from tumor antigens is essential for the development of immunotherapy for malignant tumors. The EML4-ALK fusion gene was recently identified in a subset of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). In this study we searched for HLA-A 02:01- and HLA-A 24:02‑restricted epitopes derived from EML4-ALK by screening predicted EML4-ALK‑derived candidate peptides for the induction of tumor‑reactive CTLs. Nine EML4-ALK‑derived peptides were selected by a computer algorithm based on a permissive HLA-A 02:01 or HLA-A 24:02 binding motif. One of the nine peptides induced peptide-specific CTLs from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We were able to generate a peptide‑specific CTL clone. This CTL clone specifically recognized peptide‑pulsed T2 cells and H2228 cells expressing HLA-A 02:01 and EML4-ALK that had been treated with IFN-γ 48 h prior to examination. CTL activity was inhibited by an anti-HLA‑class I monoclonal antibody (W6/32), consistent with a class I-restricted mechanism of cytotoxicity. These results suggest that this peptide (RLSALESRV) is a novel HLA-A 02:01-restricted CTL epitope and that it may be a new target for antigen-specific immunotherapy against EML4‑ALK-positive cancers.

Robesova B, Bajerova M, Liskova K, et al.
TaqMan based real time PCR assay targeting EML4-ALK fusion transcripts in NSCLC.
Lung Cancer. 2014; 85(1):25-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: Lung cancer with the ALK rearrangement constitutes only a small fraction of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, in the era of molecular-targeted therapy, efficient patient selection is crucial for successful treatment. In this context, an effective method for EML4-ALK detection is necessary. We developed a new highly sensitive variant specific TaqMan based real time PCR assay applicable to RNA from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPE).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This assay was used to analyze the EML4-ALK gene in 96 non-selected NSCLC specimens and compared with two other methods (end-point PCR and break-apart FISH).
RESULTS: EML4-ALK was detected in 33/96 (34%) specimens using variant specific real time PCR, whereas in only 23/96 (24%) using end-point PCR. All real time PCR positive samples were confirmed with direct sequencing. A total of 46 specimens were subsequently analyzed by all three detection methods. Using variant specific real time PCR we identified EML4-ALK transcript in 17/46 (37%) specimens, using end-point PCR in 13/46 (28%) specimens and positive ALK rearrangement by FISH was detected in 8/46 (17.4%) specimens. Moreover, using variant specific real time PCR, 5 specimens showed more than one EML4-ALK variant simultaneously (in 2 cases the variants 1+3a+3b, in 2 specimens the variants 1+3a and in 1 specimen the variant 1+3b). In one case of 96 EML4-ALK fusion gene and EGFR mutation were detected. All simultaneous genetic variants were confirmed using end-point PCR and direct sequencing.
CONCLUSION: Our variant specific real time PCR assay is highly sensitive, fast, financially acceptable, applicable to FFPE and seems to be a valuable tool for the rapid prescreening of NSCLC patients in clinical practice, so, that most patients able to benefit from targeted therapy could be identified.

Jürgens J, Engel-Riedel W, Prickartz A, et al.
Combined point mutation in KRAS or EGFR genes and EML4-ALK translocation in lung cancer patients.
Future Oncol. 2014; 10(4):529-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
A total of three cases with novel constellations regarding mutation patterns in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are reported. The mutation patterns that are observed are novel and unexpected. First, a combined simultaneous KRAS mutation and EML4-ALK translocation, both in the main tumor and a bone metastasis, were observed, these mutations are assumed to mutually exclude each other. A further two cases include a father and a daughter, both of whom are suffering from NSCLC with different EGFR mutation patterns. A common cause was assumed; however, could not be deduced to mutations in the KRAS, BRAF and EGFR genes. The aforementioned cases are important, as it must be taken into account that mutations previously assumed to be exclusive can occur in combination, may influence the clinical outcome and may require different therapy compared with single mutated tumors. It has to be discussed whether diagnostic algorithms need to be adapted. The cases of father and daughter show that further unknown factors can influence development of NSCLC.

Berghoff AS, Birner P, Streubel B, et al.
ALK gene aberrations and the JUN/JUNB/PDGFR axis in metastatic NSCLC.
APMIS. 2014; 122(9):867-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene aberrations are found in several tumor types including anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Crizotinib, an inhibitor of ALK-fusion proteins, has shown clinical activity, but resistance mechanisms limit long-lasting disease control. It has been shown that ALK-NPM fusion upregulates platelet-derived growth factor receptor beta (PDGFRB) via JUN and transcription factor Jun B (JUNB) in ALCL. PDGFRB inhibition has been identified as therapy option for ALK-positive ALCL. Here, we investigated the ALK/JUN/JUNB/transcription factor Jun C (JUNC)/PDGFR axis in metastatic NSCLC with regard to ALK aberrations. We performed immunohistochemical analysis of platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA), PDGFRB, JUNB and JUNC expression in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens of 15 NSCLC brain metastases (5 ALK translocations, 3 of them involving EML4, 5 ALK amplifications, 5 without ALK aberrations). We did not find a statistically significant difference in expression of PDGFRA, PDGFRB, JUNB or JUNC in tumor samples with normal ALK status, ALK amplification or ALK translocations (Kruskal-Wallis test p > 0.05). Interestingly, PDGFRB was not expressed in tumor cells (but in vascular and stromal cells) in any of our cases. Our data argue against PDGFRB activation in association with ALK gene aberrations in metastatic NSCLC and thus seem to imply differential pathobiological roles of ALK alterations in lung cancer and lymphoma, possibly depending on different fusion partner genes. These results may be relevant for targeted therapies, as they indicate that inhibition of PDGFRB in ALK translocated NSCLC seems to be no therapeutic opportunity.

Caliò A, Nottegar A, Gilioli E, et al.
ALK/EML4 fusion gene may be found in pure squamous carcinoma of the lung.
J Thorac Oncol. 2014; 9(5):729-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The report of cases of lung squamous cell cancers harboring anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene rearrangements raises the question whether this histologic subtype should be also evaluated for such molecular predictive test.
METHODS: A consecutive series of 40 lung pure squamous cell carcinomas were analyzed for ALK gene status by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Squamous differentiation was validated using an immunohistochemical panel including n-p63 (p40), cytokeratin (CK) 5/6, sex-determining region Y (SRY)-Box2 (SOX2), thyroid transcription factor 1, CK7, and Napsin-A.
RESULTS: Squamous differentiation was confirmed in all tumors as they stained positive for n-p63 and CK5/6 and negative for thyroid transcription factor 1 and Napsin-A. One of 40 cases (2.5%) showed an ALK rearrangement on fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: ALK translocation may be found in lung pure squamous cell carcinomas. Our data suggest the opportunity to test ALK rearrangements on biopsy samples harboring squamous cell cancer differentiation.

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