09 September 2012
Lung squamous cell carcinoma (lung SqCC) is a common type of lung cancer, causing approximately 400,000 deaths per year worldwide. Genomic alterations in lung SqCC have not been comprehensively characterized and no molecularly targeted agents have been developed specifically for its treatment. As part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we profiled 178 lung SqCCs to provide a comprehensive landscape of genomic and epigenomic alterations. Lung SqCC is characterized by complex genomic alterations, with a mean of 360 exonic mutations, 165 genomic rearrangements, and 323 segments of copy number alteration per tumor. We found statistically recurrent mutations in 18 genes in including mutation of TP53 in nearly all specimens. Previously unreported loss-of-function mutations were seen in the HLA-A class I major histocompatibility gene. Significantly altered pathways included NFE2L2/KEAP1 in 34%, squamous differentiation genes in 44%, PI3K/AKT in 47%, and CDKN2A/RB1 in 72% of tumors. We identified a potential therapeutic target in the majority of tumors, offering new avenues of investigation for lung SqCC treatment.