Publication in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics
Lisa Werr, Dennis Plenker, Marcel A. Dammert, Carina Lorenz, Johannes Brägelmann, Hannah L. Tumbrink, Sebastian Klein, Anna Schmitt, Reinhard Büttner, Thorsten Persigehl, Kevan M. Shokat, F. Thomas Wunderlich, Alison M. Schram, Martin Peifer, Martin L. Sos, H. Christian Reinhardt, Roman K. Thomas
NRG1 fusions are recurrent somatic genome alterations occurring across several tumor types, including invasive mucinous lung adenocarcinomas (IMA) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) and are potentially actionable genetic alterations in these cancers. We initially discovered CD74-NRG1 as the first NRG1 fusion in lung adenocarcinomas and many additional fusion partners have since been identified. Here, we present the first CD74-NRG1 transgenic mouse model and provide evidence that ubiquitous expression of the CD74-NRG1 fusion protein in vivo leads to tumor development at high frequency. Furthermore, we show that ERBB2:ERBB3 heterodimerization is a mechanistic event in transformation by CD74-NRG1 binding physically to ERBB3 and that CD74-NRG1-expressing cells proliferate independent of supplemented NRG1 ligand. Thus, NRG1 gene fusions are recurrent driver oncogenes that cause oncogene dependency. Consistent with these findings, patients with NRG1 fusion-positive cancers respond to therapy targeting the ERBB2:ERBB3 receptors.