Molecular Landscape of BRAF-Mutant NSCLC Reveals an Association Between Clonality and Driver Mutations and Identifies Targetable Non-V600 Driver Mutations

J Thorac Oncol. 2020 Oct;15(10):1611-1623. doi: 10.1016/j.jtho.2020.05.021. Epub 2020 Jun 13.


Introduction: Approximately 4% of NSCLC harbor BRAF mutations, and approximately 50% of these are non-V600 mutations. Treatment of tumors harboring non-V600 mutations is challenging because of functional heterogeneity and lack of knowledge regarding their clinical significance and response to targeted agents.

Methods: We conducted an integrative analysis of BRAF non-V600 mutations using genomic profiles of BRAF-mutant NSCLC from the Guardant360 database. BRAF mutations were categorized by clonality and class (1 and 2: RAS-independent; 3: RAS-dependent). Cell viability assays were performed in Ba/F3 models. Drug screens were performed in NSCLC cell lines.

Results: A total of 305 unique BRAF mutations were identified. Missense mutations were most common (276, 90%), and 45% were variants of unknown significance. F468S and N581Y were identified as novel activating mutations. Class 1 to 3 mutations had higher clonality than mutations of unknown class (p < 0.01). Three patients were treated with MEK with or without BRAF inhibitors. Patients harboring G469V and D594G mutations did not respond, whereas a patient with the L597R mutation had a durable response. Trametinib with or without dabrafenib, LXH254, and lifirafenib had more potent inhibition of BRAF non-V600-mutant NSCLC cell lines than other MEK, BRAF, and ERK inhibitors, comparable with the inhibition of BRAF V600E cell line.

Conclusions: In BRAF-mutant NSCLC, clonality is higher in known functional mutations and may allow identification of variants of unknown significance that are more likely to be oncogenic drivers. Our data indicate that certain non-V600 mutations are responsive to MEK and BRAF inhibitors. This integration of genomic profiling and drug sensitivity may guide the treatment for BRAF-mutant NSCLC.

Keywords: BRAF; Cell-free DNA; Non–small cell lung cancer; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf