Introduction: Serine/threonine kinase 11 gene (STK11), better known as liver kinase β1, is a tumor suppressor that is commonly mutated in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD). Previous work has shown that mutational inactivation of the STK11 pathway may serve as a predictive biomarker for cancer treatments, including phenformin and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibition. Although immunohistochemical (IHC) staining and diagnostic sequencing are used to measure STK11 pathway disruption, there are serious limitations to these methods, thus emphasizing the importance of validating a clinically useful assay.
Methods: An initial STK11 mutation mRNA signature was generated using cell line data and refined using three large, independent patient databases. The signature was validated as a classifier using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) LUAD cohort as well as a 442-patient LUAD cohort developed at Moffitt. Finally, the signature was adapted to a NanoString-based format and validated using RNA samples isolated from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks corresponding to a cohort of 150 patients with LUAD. For comparison, STK11 IHC staining was also performed.
Results: The STK11 signature was found to correlate with null mutations identified by exon sequencing in multiple cohorts using both microarray and NanoString formats. Although there was a statistically significant correlation between reduced STK11 protein expression by IHC staining and mutation status, the NanoString-based assay showed superior overall performance, with a -0.1588 improvement in area under the curve in receiver-operator characteristic curve analysis (p < 0.012).
Conclusion: The described NanoString-based STK11 assay is a sensitive biomarker to study emerging therapeutic modalities in clinical trials.
Keywords: COX-2 inhibition; LKB1; NanoString; STK11; biomarker.
Copyright © 2016 International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.