Objectives: Primary and acquired resistance to EGFR TKIs in EGFR mutant lung cancer occurs primarily through secondary mutations in EGFR or Met amplification. Drug resistance can also be mediated by expression of pluripotency transcription factors, such as OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG that decrease terminal differentiation. In this study, we investigated the expression and role of SOX2 in model systems of EGFR mutant tumors. Materials and methods: Immunoblotting or immunohistochemistry was used to assess expression of pluripotency transcription factors in lungs of transgenic mice or in human NSCLC cell lines. Expression of SOX2 was reduced by shRNA knockdown, and response to erlotinib and cellular proliferation were assessed. Results and conclusion: Induction of mutant EGFR in transgenic CCSP-rtTA/TetO-EGFRL858R/T790M mice correlated with increased OCT4 and SOX2 expression in lung tissue prior to tumor development. Established lung tumors retained SOX2 expression. To assess a role for SOX2 in tumorigenesis, a panel of NSCLC cell lines with activating EGFR mutations was assessed for SOX2 expression. Two of six cell lines with mutant EGFR showed detectable SOX2 levels, suggesting SOX2 expression did not correlate with EGFR mutation status. To assess the role of SOX2 in these cell lines, HCC827 and H1975 cells were infected with lentivirus containing SOX2 shRNA. Knockdown of SOX2 decreased proliferation in both cell lines and increased sensitivity to erlotinib in HCC827 cells. Because constitutive activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway is associated with EGFR TKI resistance, cells were treated with PI3K/AKT inhibitors and expression of SOX2 was examined. PI3K/Akt inhibitors decreased SOX2 expression in a time-dependent manner. These data suggest targeting SOX2 may provide therapeutic benefit in the subset of EGFR-mutant tumors with high constitutive levels of SOX2, and that until more direct means of inhibiting SOX2 are developed, PI3K/Akt inhibitors might be useful to inhibit SOX2 in EGFR TKI resistant tumors.
- Non-small cell lung cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cancer Research