Purpose: Activating mutations within the tyrosine kinase domain of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are found in approximately 10% to 20% of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and are associated with response to EGFR inhibitors. The most common NSCLC-associated EGFR mutations are deletions in exon 19 and L858R mutation in exon 21, together accounting for 90% of EGFR mutations. To develop a simple, sensitive, and reliable clinical assay for the identification of EGFR mutations in NSCLC patients, we generated mutation-specific rabbit monoclonal antibodies against each of these two most common EGFR mutations and aimed to evaluate the detection of EGFR mutations in NSCLC patients by immunohistochemistry.
Experimental design: We tested mutation-specific antibodies by Western blot, immunofluorescence, and immunohistochemistry. In addition, we stained 40 EGFR genotyped NSCLC tumor samples by immunohistochemistry with these antibodies. Finally, with a panel of four antibodies, we screened a large set of NSCLC patient samples with unknown genotype and confirmed the immunohistochemistry results by DNA sequencing.
Results: These two antibodies specifically detect the corresponding mutant form of EGFR by Western blotting, immunofluorescence, and immunohistochemistry. Screening a panel of 340 paraffin-embedded NSCLC tumor samples with these antibodies showed that the sensitivity of the immunohistochemistry assay is 92%, with a specificity of 99% as compared with direct and mass spectrometry-based DNA sequencing.
Conclusions: This simple assay for detection of EGFR mutations in diagnostic human tissues provides a rapid, sensitive, specific, and cost-effective method to identify lung cancer patients responsive to EGFR-based therapies.