Exons 19-21 EGFR activating mutations are predictive biomarkers of response to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, uncommon exon 19 EGFR mutations, due to their low frequency, have an uncertain biological and clinical significance and very little is known about their TKI sensitivity. This study was designed to describe the TKI sensitivity of a small cohort of lung adenocarcinomas bearing uncommon exon 19 mutations and to evaluate in silico the correlation between frame-shift exon 19 mutations and EGFR sequence/structure modification. Among 1168 NSCLCs screened for EGFR mutational status in our Institutions between 2011 and 2016, seven uncommon exon 19 EGFR mutations were further evaluated: five complex mutations, characterized by a deletion followed by a single-nucleotide insertion, a macrodeletion of 25 bp, and a 19 bp duplication. Interestingly, three patients harboring frame-shift mutations (i.e., one complex mutation, the macrodeletion, and the duplication) showed disease stability and considerably long PFS and OS upon TKI therapy. By contrast, three patients with in-frame complex deletions, independently of the mutation starting point, showed poor/lack of response to TKI therapy. In silico structural analysis showed that sensitivity to TKIs correlates with structural changes in the length and conformation of EGFR C-helix in frame-shift mutations. These data suggest that not all uncommon exon 19 EGFR mutations have the same TKI sensitivity and that frame-shift mutations are responsive to TKIs therapy.
- Journal Article