Research Papers:

Genomic markers of panitumumab resistance including ERBB2/ HER2 in a phase II study of KRAS wild-type (wt) metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC)

Garrett S. Barry, Maggie C. Cheang, Hector Li Chang and Hagen F. Kennecke _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:18953-18964. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8006

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Garrett S. Barry1, Maggie C. Cheang2, Hector Li Chang1, Hagen F. Kennecke3

1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada

2The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, London, Surrey SM2 5NG, United Kingdom

3Medical Oncology, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4E6, Canada

Correspondence to:

Hagen F. Kennecke, e-mail: hkennecke@bccancer.bc.ca

Keywords: mCRC, nanostring, ERBB2, HER2, EGFR inhibitor resistance

Received: October 19, 2015     Accepted: January 29, 2016     Published: March 09, 2016


A prospective study was conducted to identify biomarkers associated with resistance to panitumumab monotherapy in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Patients with previously treated, codon 12/13 KRAS wt, mCRC were prospectively administered panitumumab 6 mg/kg IV q2weeks. Of 34 panitumumab-treated patients, 11 (32%) had progressive disease at 8 weeks and were classified as non-responders.

A Nanostring nCounter-based assay identified a 5-gene expression signature (ERBB2, MLPH, IRX3, MYRF, and KLK6) associated with panitumumab resistance (P = 0.001). Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization determined that the HER2 (ERBB2) protein was overexpressed in 4/11 non-responding and 0/21 responding cases (P = 0.035). Two non-responding tumors had ERBB2 gene amplification only, and one demonstrated both ERBB2 amplification and mutation. A non-codon 12/13 KRAS mutation occurred in one panitumumab-resistant patient and was mutually exclusive with ERBB2/HER2 abnormalities.

This study identifies a 5-gene signature associated with non-response to single agent panitumumab, including a subgroup of non-responders with evidence of aberrant ERBB2/HER2 signaling. KRAS wt tumors resistant to EGFRi may be identified by gene signature analysis, and the HER2 pathway plays an important role in resistance to therapy.

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