Background: Several studies showed that gain-of-function somatic mutations affecting the catalytic domain of EGFR in non-small cell lung carcinomas were associated with response to gefitinib and erlotinib, both EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In addition, 4% of non-small cell lung carcinomas were shown to have ERBB2 mutations in the kinase domain. In our study, we sought to determine if similar respective gain-of-function EGFR and ERBB2 mutations were present in hepatoma and/or biliary cancers.
Methods: We extracted genomic DNA from 40 hepatoma (18) and biliary cancers (22) samples, and 44 adenocarcinomas of the lung, this latter as a positive control for mutation detection. We subjected those samples to PCR-based semi-automated double stranded nucleotide sequencing targeting exons 18-21 of EGFR and ERBB2. All samples were tested against matched normal DNA.
Results: We found 11% of hepatoma, but no biliary cancers, harbored a novel ERBB2 H878Y mutation in the activating domain.
Conclusion: These newly described mutations may play a role in predicting response to EGFR-targeted therapy in hepatoma and their role should be explored in prospective studies.