The activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab in metastatic colorectal carcinoma (mCRC) is significantly limited by molecular mechanisms leading to intrinsic or acquired resistance. The S492R mutation of the EGFR, which is caused by either the 1476C>A or the 1474A>C substitution, interferes with binding to cetuximab but not to panitumumab, and has been detected in mCRC with acquired resistance to cetuximab. Since mechanisms of acquired and intrinsic resistance to EGFR monoclonal antibodies in CRC significantly overlap, we evaluated the frequency of the S492R mutation in a series of KRAS-exon 2 wild-type CRC patients. Genomic DNA was extracted from formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues that were obtained from 505 systemic therapy-naïve CRC patients. A PCR/sequencing method for the detection of the S492R mutation was developed, by using as positive control a plasmid in which the 1474A>C mutation was generated by site directed mutagenesis. The lowest level of detection of this assay was approximately 10% mutant DNA in a background of wild-type DNA. PCR sequencing analysis revealed no S492R mutations in any of the analyzed 505 CRC specimens. Our findings suggest that the S492R mutation is not involved in primary resistance to cetuximab in CRC. Therefore, patients with mCRC should not be routinely screened for this mutation prior therapy with cetuximab.
Keywords: EGFR; cetuximab; colon carcinoma; monoclonal antibodies; panitumumab; resistance.