Novel Emerging Molecular Targets in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 5;22(5):2625. doi: 10.3390/ijms22052625.


In the scenario of systemic treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, one of the most relevant breakthroughs is represented by targeted therapies. Throughout the last years, inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), c-Ros oncogene 1 (ROS1), and V-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF) have been approved and are currently used in clinical practice. However, other promising molecular drivers are rapidly emerging as therapeutic targets. This review aims to cover the molecular alterations with a potential clinical impact in NSCLC, including amplifications or mutations of the mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor (MET), fusions of rearranged during transfection (RET), rearrangements of the neurotrophic tyrosine kinase (NTRK) genes, mutations of the Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene (KRAS) and phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase, catalytic subunit alpha (PIK3CA), as well as amplifications or mutations of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Additionally, we summarized the current status of targeted agents under investigation for such alterations. This revision of the current literature on emerging molecular targets is needed as the evolving knowledge on novel actionable oncogenic drivers and targeted agents is expected to increase the proportion of patients who will benefit from tailored therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: HER2; KRAS; MET; NTRK; PIK3CA; RET; non-small cell lung cancer; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases