Expression of EGFR and conformational forms of EGFR in malignant pleural mesothelioma and its impact on survival

Lung Cancer 2020 December 31 [Link]

Puey Ling Chia, Sagun Parakh, Prudence Russell, Hui K Gan, Khashayer Asadi, Val Gebski, Carmel Murone, Marzena Walkiewicz, Zhanqi Liu, Bibhusal Thapa, Fiona E Scott, Andrew M Scott, Thomas John


Aim: Conformational forms of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are pro-tumorigenic. The prevalence and impact of conformational forms of EGFR in malignant mesothelioma (MM) is unknown. We investigated expression of EGFR and conformational forms of EGFR by immunohistochemistry using EGFR-targeting monoclonal antibodies (mAb). In addition, EGFR gene amplification was investigated by fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH). Findings were correlated with survival.

Methods: Patients treated between 1988 and 2014 were identified from the thoracic surgery database of the Austin Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Tissue microarrays (TMAs) were constructed, subjected to wild type (wt) EGFR IHC staining and FISH analysis. Conformational and mutation forms of EGFR were detected by IHC using mAb806, and LMH-151 which detects EGFRVIII. H-scores were derived and EGFR expression correlated with survival by Kaplan-Meier and log rank analysis.

Results: WtEGFR expression was seen in 93 % (299/321) of cases with overexpression (defined as an H-score ≥200) seen in more than half of cases (64 %). EGFR overexpression in MM was seen more commonly in the epithelioid subtype. EGFR overexpression was not associated with true EGFR amplification, although multiple copies were appreciated in samples with polysomy. EGFR expression did not correlate with survival. A conformational form of EGFR associated with EGFR dysregulation was found in 8.2 % of cases, and patients with these tumors had a trend towards a poorer outcome. No cases of the EGFRVIII mutation were identified.

Conclusion: MM consistently demonstrated high expression of EGFR, with a subset of tumors showing conformational EGFR forms consistent with EGFR dysregulation, but withoutEGFR amplification or EGFR VIII mutation. wtEGFR expression did not influence survival. The impact of EGFR conformation on survival warrants further investigation.