Lung cancer remains the most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide and it continues to lack effective treatment. The increasingly large and diverse public databases of lung cancer gene expression constitute a rich source of candidate oncogenic drivers and therapeutic targets. To define novel targets for lung adenocarcinoma, we conducted a large-scale meta-analysis of genes specifically overexpressed in adenocarcinoma. We identified an 11-gene signature that was overexpressed consistently in adenocarcinoma specimens relative to normal lung tissue. Six genes in this signature were specifically overexpressed in adenocarcinoma relative to other subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Among these genes was the little studied protein tyrosine kinase PTK7. Immunohistochemical analysis confirmed that PTK7 is highly expressed in primary adenocarcinoma patient samples. RNA interference-mediated attenuation of PTK7 decreased cell viability and increased apoptosis in a subset of adenocarcinoma cell lines. Further, loss of PTK7 activated the MKK7-JNK stress response pathway and impaired tumor growth in xenotransplantation assays. Our work defines PTK7 as a highly and specifically expressed gene in adenocarcinoma and a potential therapeutic target in this subset of NSCLC.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.