Next generation sequencing has become a powerful tool in dissecting and identifying mutations and genomic structural variants that accompany tumourigenesis. Sequence analysis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) illustrates the ability to rapidly identify mutations that may affect phenotype. Approximately 50% of human GBMs overexpress epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) which renders the EGFR protein a compelling therapeutic target. In brain tumours, attempts to target EGFR as a cancer therapeutic, however, have achieved little or no benefit. The mechanisms that drive therapeutic resistance to EGFR inhibitors in brain tumours are not well defined, and drug resistance contributes to the deadly and aggressive nature of the disease. Whole genome sequencing of four primary GBMs revealed multiple pathways by which EGFR protein abundance becomes deregulated in these tumours and will guide the development of new strategies for treating EGFR overexpressing tumours. Each of the four tumours displayed a different mechanism leading to increased EGFR protein levels. One mechanism is mediated by gene amplification and tandem duplication of the kinase domain. A second involves an intragenic deletion that generates a constitutively active form of the protein. A third combines the loss of a gene which encodes a protein that regulates EGFR abundance as well as an miRNA that modulates EGFR expression. A fourth mechanism entails loss of an ubiquitin ligase docking site in the C-terminal part of the protein whose absence inhibits turnover of the receptor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis