Rationale: Amplification of distal 3q is the most common genomic aberration in squamous lung cancer (SQC). SQC develops in a multistage progression from normal bronchial epithelium through dysplasia to invasive disease. Identifying the key driver events in the early pathogenesis of SQC will facilitate the search for predictive molecular biomarkers and the identification of novel molecular targets for chemoprevention and therapeutic strategies. For technical reasons, previous attempts to analyze 3q amplification in preinvasive lesions have focused on small numbers of predetermined candidate loci rather than an unbiased survey of copy-number variation.
Objectives: To perform a detailed analysis of the 3q amplicon in bronchial dysplasia of different histological grades.
Methods: We use molecular copy-number counting (MCC) to analyze the structure of chromosome 3 in 19 preinvasive bronchial biopsy specimens from 15 patients and sequential biopsy specimens from 3 individuals.
Measurements and main results: We demonstrate that no low-grade lesions, but all high-grade lesions, have 3q amplification. None of seven low-grade lesions progressed clinically, whereas 8 of 10 patients with high-grade disease progressed to cancer. We identify a minimum commonly amplified region on chromosome 3 consisting of 17 genes, including 2 known oncogenes, SOX2 and PIK3CA. We confirm that both genes are amplified in all high-grade dysplastic lesions tested. We further demonstrate, in three individuals, that the clinical progression of high-grade preinvasive disease is associated with incremental amplification of SOX2, suggesting this promotes malignant progression.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate progressive 3q amplification in the evolution of preinvasive SQC and implicate SOX2 as a key target of this dynamic process.