Tumor genotyping is not routinely performed in localized non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) due to lack of associations of mutations with outcome. Here, we analyze 232 consecutive patients with localized NSCLC and demonstrate that KEAP1 and NFE2L2 mutations are predictive of high rates of local recurrence (LR) after radiotherapy but not surgery. Half of LRs occurred in tumors with KEAP1/NFE2L2 mutations, indicating that they are major molecular drivers of clinical radioresistance. Next, we functionally evaluate KEAP1/NFE2L2 mutations in our radiotherapy cohort and demonstrate that only pathogenic mutations are associated with radioresistance. Furthermore, expression of NFE2L2 target genes does not predict LR, underscoring the utility of tumor genotyping. Finally, we show that glutaminase inhibition preferentially radiosensitizes KEAP1-mutant cells via depletion of glutathione and increased radiation-induced DNA damage. Our findings suggest that genotyping for KEAP1/NFE2L2 mutations could facilitate treatment personalization and provide a potential strategy for overcoming radioresistance conferred by these mutations. SIGNIFICANCE: This study shows that mutations in KEAP1 and NFE2L2 predict for LR after radiotherapy but not surgery in patients with NSCLC. Approximately half of all LRs are associated with these mutations and glutaminase inhibition may allow personalized radiosensitization of KEAP1/NFE2L2-mutant tumors.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1775.
©2020 American Association for Cancer Research.