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Ann Oncol 2017 Apr 01;284:791-797. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdw693.
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Differential protein stability and clinical responses of EML4-ALK fusion variants to various ALK inhibitors in advanced ALK-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer.

Woo CG , Seo S , Kim SW , Jang SJ , Park KS , Song JY , Lee B , Richards MW , Bayliss R , Lee DH , Choi J .

Background: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibition using crizotinib has become the standard of care in advanced ALK-rearranged non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but the treatment outcomes and duration of response vary widely. Echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4 (EML4)-ALK is the most common translocation, and the fusion variants show different sensitivity to crizotinib in vitro. However, there are only limited data on the specific EML4-ALK variants and clinical responses of patients to various ALK inhibitors. Patients and methods: By multiplex reverse-transcriptase PCR, which detects 12 variants of known EML4-ALK rearrangements, we retrospectively determined ALK fusion variants in 54 advanced ALK rearrangement-positive NSCLCs. We subdivided the patients into two groups (variants 1/2/others and variants 3a/b) by protein stability and evaluated correlations of the variant status with clinical responses to crizotinib, alectinib, or ceritinib. Moreover, we established the EML4-ALK variant-expressing system and analyzed patterns of sensitivity of the variants to ALK inhibitors. Results: Of the 54 tumors analyzed, EML4-ALK variants 3a/b (44.4%) was the most common type, followed by variants 1 (33.3%) and 2 (11.1%). The 2-year progression-free survival (PFS) rate was 76.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 56.8-100] in group EML4-ALK variants 1/2/others versus 26.4% (95% CI 10.5-66.6) in group variants 3a/b (P = 0.034) among crizotinib-treated patients. Meanwhile, the 2-year PFS rate was 69.0% (95% CI 49.9-95.4) in group variants 1/2/others versus 32.7% (95% CI 15.6-68.4) in group variants 3a/b (P = 0.108) among all crizotinib-, alectinib-, and ceritinib-treated patients. Variant 3a- or 5a-harboring cells were resistant to ALK inhibitors with >10-fold higher half maximal inhibitory concentration in vitro. Conclusion: Our findings show that group EML4-ALK variants 3a/b may be a major source of ALK inhibitor resistance in the clinic. The variant-specific genotype of the EML4-ALK fusion allows for more precise stratification of patients with advanced NSCLC.

PubMed ID: 28039177
Article link: Ann Oncol
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