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Pfäffle, Heike (2013): Defective DNA repair in EGFR-mutant lung cancer: opportunities for targeted therapy. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy



In patients with lung cancer whose tumors harbor activating mutations in the EGF receptor (EGFR), increased responses to platinum-based chemotherapies are seen compared with wild-type cancers. However, the mechanisms underlying this association have remained elusive. Here, we describe a cellular phenotype of crosslinker sensitivity in a subset of EGFR-mutant lung cancer cell lines that is reminiscent of the defects seen in cells impaired in the Fanconi anemia pathway, including a pronounced G2–M cell-cycle arrest and chromosomal radial formation. We identified a defect downstream of FANCD2 at the level of recruitment of FAN1 nuclease and DNA interstrand crosslink (ICL) unhooking. The effect of EGFR mutation was epistatic with FANCD2. Consistent with the known role of FANCD2 in promoting RAD51 foci formation and homologous recombination repair (HRR), EGFR-mutant cells also exhibited an impaired RAD51 foci response to ICLs, but not to DNA double-strand breaks. EGFR kinase inhibition affected RAD51 foci formation neither in EGFR-mutant nor wild-type cells. In contrast, EGFR depletion or overexpression of mutant EGFR in wild-type cells suppressed RAD51 foci, suggesting an EGFR kinase-independent regulation of DNA repair. Interestingly, EGFR-mutant cells treated with the PARP inhibitor olaparib also displayed decreased FAN1 foci induction, coupled with a putative block in a late HRR step. As a result, EGFR-mutant lung cancer cells exhibited olaparib sensitivity in vitro and in vivo. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms of cisplatin and PARP inhibitor sensitivity of EGFR-mutant cells, yielding potential therapeutic opportunities for further treatment individualization in this genetically defined subset of lung cancer.