Allele-Specific Role of ERBB2 in the Oncogenic Function of EGFR L861Q in EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancers

Hiroki Sato, Michael Offin, Daisuke Kubota, Helena A. Yu, Clare Wilhelm, Shinichi Toyooka, Romel Somwar, Mark G. Kris, Marc Ladanyi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Unlike common EGFR mutations, many less common EGFR mutations remain poorly characterized in terms of oncogenic function and drug sensitivity. Here, we characterize the subset of lung adenocarcinoma harboring EGFR L861Q through both preclinical and clinical investigations. Methods: We reviewed clinical and genomic data from patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer. We established cells expressing EGFR mutations and performed functional analysis of L861Q in comparison with common EGFR mutations. Results: Among the patients with lung cancer, 3.4% (47 of 1367) possess an EGFR L861Q mutation. Of the patients with L861Q, 23.4% (11 of 47) had a concurrent exon 18 mutation (typically involving G719). In vitro studies revealed that the oncogenic activity of L861Q is dependent on asymmetric dimerization. Cells expressing L861Q were less sensitive to EGFR-specific inhibitors compared with cells expressing L858R but were similarly sensitive to pan-ERBB inhibitors. In cells expressing L861Q, ERBB2 phosphorylation was markedly higher compared with cells expressing L858R, and an enhanced interaction between EGFR and ERBB2 was observed in coimmunoprecipitation studies. In addition, treatment with osimertinib enhanced expression of the antiapoptotic protein MCL1, and knockdown of ERBB2 suppressed the expression of MCL1 in L861Q, raising the possibility of differential allele-specific cross-phosphorylation of ERBB2. Moreover, compared with EGFR-specific inhibitors, pan-ERBB inhibitors exerted superior growth inhibitory effects on cells expressing compound L861Q/G719X mutations. Conclusions: Our results suggest that ERBB2 plays a previously unrecognized role in EGFR L861Q-driven tumorigenesis, and pan-ERBB inhibitors are likely to be more effective than selective EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-126
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • EGFR uncommon mutation
  • ERBB2
  • L861Q
  • Lung adenocarcinoma
  • Pan-ERBB inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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