Background: Activating somatic mutations in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) confer unique biologic features to non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, but the transcriptional mediators of EGFR in this subgroup of NSCLC have not been fully elucidated.
Methodology/principal findings: Here we used genetic and pharmacologic approaches to elucidate the transcriptomes of NSCLC cell lines. We transcriptionally profiled a panel of EGFR-mutant and -wild-type NSCLC cell lines cultured in the presence or absence of an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Hierarchical analysis revealed that the cell lines segregated on the basis of EGFR mutational status (mutant versus wild-type), and expression signatures were identified by supervised analysis that distinguished the cell lines based on mutational status (wild-type versus mutant) and type of mutation (L858R versus Delta746-750). Using an EGFR mutation-specific expression signature as a probe, we mined the gene expression profiles of two independent cohorts of NSCLC patients and found the signature in a subset. EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment regulated the expression of multiple genes, and pharmacologic inhibition of the protein products of two of them (PTGS2 and EphA2) inhibited anchorage-independent growth in EGFR-mutant NSCLC cells.
Conclusions/significance: We have elucidated genes not previously associated with EGFR-mutant NSCLC, two of which enhanced the clonogenicity of these cells, distinguishing these mediators from others previously shown to maintain cell survival. These findings have potential clinical relevance given the availability of pharmacologic tools to inhibit the protein products of these genes.