Response to mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) inhibitors in NSCLC with mesenchymal-epithelial transition gene (MET) exon 14 skipping (METex14) has fueled molecular screening efforts and the search for optimal therapies. However, further work is needed to refine the clinicopathologic and prognostic implications of METex14 skipping.Methods
Among 795 East Asian patients who underwent a surgical procedure for NSCLC, we screened 45 patients with quintuple-negative (EGFR-negative/KRAS-negative/anaplastic lymphoma kinase gene [ALK]-negative/ROS1-negative/ret proto-oncogene [RET]-negative) lung adenocarcinomas by using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and found 17 patients (37.8%) with METex14 skipping. We also investigated the effect of small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting skipping junction in cells with METex14 skipping.Results
The median age of the 17 patients was 73 years. The acinar subtype was predominant (52.9%), followed by the solid subtype (35.3%). MET immunohistochemistry demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 70.4% specificity. Multivariate analyses showed that patients with METex14 skipping had a higher recurrence rate than those with ALK fusion (versus METex14 skipping) (hazard ratio = 0.283, 95% confidence interval: 0.119–0.670) in stage I to IIIA disease; however, the differences in overall survival were not significant after adjustment for pathologic stage (p = 0.669). Meanwhile, siRNA decreased MET-driven signaling pathways in Hs746T cells, and combined treatment with siRNA and crizotinib inhibited cell proliferation in crizotinib-resistant H596 cells.Conclusions
The prevalence of METex14 skipping was quite high in East Asian patients without other driver mutations in lung adenocarcinomas. METex14 skipping was associated with old age, the acinar or solid histologic subtype, and high MET immunohistochemical expression. The prognosis of patients with METex14 skipping was similar to that of patients with major driver mutations. siRNA targeting the junction of METex14 skipping could inhibit MET-driven signaling pathways in cells with METex14 skipping.