Somatic mutations in the tyrosine kinase (TK) domain of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene in lung cancers have generated enormous interest, because they predict for sensitivity to TK inhibitors (TKIs). While mutational status is of great importance in determining response to TKIs, it is not the sole factor, and evidence is accumulating that EGFR gene amplification, other members of the EGFR family (HER2, HER3) and genes downstream of EGFR signaling (KRAS, BRAF), may be involved in cancer pathogenesis and the response of TKIs. EGFR mutations occur in highly selected subpopulations of lung cancer patients: adenocarcinoma histology, never-smoker status, East Asian ethnicity and female gender. The recent finding of "a resistance associated" mutation for TKIs also provides new insights into this complicated mechanism. Thus, molecular-based studies to analyze the biological functions and to assess TKI sensitivity depending on the type of mutations are required. Epidemiological studies to identify possible carcinogenic factor(s) affecting different subpopulations are also of interest. In addition, for optimal therapeutic approach a comprehensive understanding of the genes related to EGFR signaling pathway, including RAS/RAF/MAPK and PI3K-AKT pathways, are required.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.