Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) controls a wide range of cellular processes, and aberrant EGFR signaling as a result of receptor overexpression and/or mutation occurs in many types of cancer. Tumor cells in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients that harbor EGFR kinase domain mutations exhibit oncogene addiction to mutant EGFR, which confers high sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). As patients invariably develop resistance to TKIs, it is important to delineate the cell biological basis of mutant EGFR-induced cellular transformation since components of these pathways can serve as alternate therapeutic targets to preempt or overcome resistance. NSCLC-associated EGFR mutants are constitutively-active and induce ligandindependent transformation in nonmalignant cell lines. Emerging data suggest that a number of factors are critical for the mutant EGFR-dependent tumorigenicity, and bypassing the effects of TKIs on these pathways promotes drug resistance. For example, activation of downstream pathways such as Akt, Erk, STAT3 and Src is critical for mutant EGFR-mediated biological processes. It is now well-established that the potency and spatiotemporal features of cellular signaling by receptor tyrosine kinases such as EGFR, as well as the specific pathways activated, is determined by the nature of endocytic traffic pathways through which the active receptors traverse. Recent evidence indicates that NSCLCassociated mutant EGFRs exhibit altered endocytic trafficking and they exhibit reduced Cbl ubiquitin ligasemediated lysosomal downregulation. More recent work has shown that mutant EGFRs undergo ligand-independent traffic into the endocytic recycling compartment, a behavior that plays a key role in Src pathway activation and oncogenesis. These studies are beginning to delineate the close nexus between signaling and endocytic traffic of EGFR mutants as a key driver of oncogenic processes. Therefore, in this review, we will discuss the links between mutant EGFR signaling and endocytic properties, and introduce potential mechanisms by which altered endocytic properties of mutant EGFRs may alter signaling and vice versa as well as their implications for NSCLC therapy.
- Epidermal growth factor receptor
- Non-small cell lung cancer
ASJC Scopus subject areas