Previous studies have shown that activating mutations of c-KIT/PDGFRA, potential therapeutic targets for imatinib mesylate, are implicated in the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs). In this study, GISTs from 37 patients enrolled in an European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) phase I/II clinical study of imatinib were examined for mutations of c-KIT/PDGFRA in order to explore whether the mutational status of the tumour predicts the clinical response to therapy. Mutations were screened by denaturing high-pressure liquid chromatography (DHPLC) and characterised by bi-directional DNA sequencing. Activating mutations of c-KIT or PDGFRA were found in 29 (78%) and 2 (6%) GISTs, respectively. Most c-KIT mutations involved exon 11 (n=24; 83%), all but one being an in-frame deletion; no isolated point mutations were found. The other c-KIT mutations included exon 9 AY 502-503 duplication (n=4; 14%) and exon 13 Lys→Glu642 missense mutation (n=1; 3%). Two tumours with no detectable c-KIT mutations demonstrated PDGFRA Asp→Glu842 amino acid substitutions. Patients with GISTs harbouring exon 11 mutations were more likely to achieve a partial response (PR) on imatinib therapy (83%) than all of the others (23%). The overall survival and progression-free survival rates for the entire group at 106 weeks were 78.3% and 46.9%, respectively. Based on a Kaplan-Meier analysis, patients with GISTs harbouring c-KIT mutations had longer median survival times and were less likely to progress than the other patients. These findings indicate that the mutational status of the c-KIT/PDGFRA oncoproteins could be useful to predict the clinical response of patients imatinib thereapy.

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European Journal of Cancer
Department of Medical Oncology

Debiec-Rychter, M., Dumez, H., Judson, I., Wasag, B., Verweij, J., Brown, M., … van Oosterom, A. (2004). Use of c-KIT/PDGFRA mutational analysis to predict the clinical response to imatinib in patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumours entered on phase I and II studies of the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group. European Journal of Cancer, 40(5), 689–695. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2003.11.025