Background: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment; however, its use does not lead to a marked clinical response. Studies of non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer showed that mutations of genes in the PIK3CA/AKT and RAS/RAF/MEK pathways, two major signalling cascades downstream of EGFR, might predict resistance to EGFR-targeted agents. Therefore, we examined the frequencies of mutations in these key EGFR pathway genes in Chinese breast cancer patients.
Methods: We used a high-throughput mass-spectrometric based cancer gene mutation profiling platform to detect 22 mutations of the PIK3CA, AKT1, BRAF, EGFR, HRAS, and KRAS genes in 120 Chinese women with breast cancer.
Results: Thirteen mutations were detected in 12 (10%) of the samples, all of which were invasive ductal carcinomas (two stage I, six stage II, three stage III, and one stage IV). These included one mutation (0.83%) in the EGFR gene (rs121913445-rs121913432), three (2.50%) in the KRAS gene (rs121913530, rs112445441), and nine (7.50%) in the PIK3CA gene (rs121913273, rs104886003, and rs121913279). No mutations were found in the AKT1, BRAF, and HRAS genes. Six (27.27%) of the 22 genotyping assays called mutations in at least one sample and three (50%) of the six assays queried were found to be mutated more than once.
Conclusions:Mutations in the EGFR pathway occurred in a small fraction of Chinese breast cancers. However, therapeutics targeting these potential predictive markers should be investigated in depth, especially in Oriental populations.