Here, we show that overexpression of fer tyrosine kinase (FER), a non-receptor tyrosine kinase, predicts poor postoperative outcome and might be involved in cancer-cell survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Systematic screening using in silico analyses and quantitative RT-PCR revealed that FER was overexpressed in about 10% of NSCLC patients. Evaluation of FER expression using immunohistochemistry (IHC) on tissue microarrays was consistent with the mRNA level detected using quantitative RT-PCR. In analyses of 135 NSCLC patients who had undergone potential curative resection, we found that FER overexpression detected using IHC had no association with clinicopathological features such as age, sex, smoking history, histological type, disease stage, T factor, N factor, adjuvant chemotherapy history, or EGFR mutation, but was correlated with poor postoperative survival periods. A multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that this prognostic impact was independent of other clinicopathological features. In functional analyses of FER in vitro, FER exhibited a transforming activity, suggesting that it possesses oncogenic functions. We also found that human lung cancer NCI-H661 cells, which exhibited FER-outlier expression, were led to apoptosis by the knockdown of FER using RNA interference. FER overexpression might serve as a prognostic biomarker and be involved in cancer-cell survival in NSCLC.
Keywords: FER overexpression; Non-small cell lung cancer; prognostic factor.