Lung cancers with activating KRAS mutations are characterized by treatment resistance and poor prognosis. In particular, the basis for their resistance to radiation therapy is poorly understood. Here, we describe a radiation resistance phenotype conferred by a stem-like subpopulation characterized by mitosis-like condensed chromatin (MLCC), high CD133 expression, invasive potential, and tumor-initiating properties. Mechanistic investigations defined a pathway involving osteopontin and the EGFR in promoting this phenotype. Osteopontin/EGFR–dependent MLCC protected cells against radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks and repressed putative negative regulators of stem-like properties, such as CRMP1 and BIM. The MLCC-positive phenotype defined a subset of KRAS-mutated lung cancers that were enriched for co-occurring genomic alterations in TP53 and CDKN2A. Our results illuminate the basis for the radiation resistance of KRAS-mutated lung cancers, with possible implications for prognostic and therapeutic strategies. Cancer Res; 77(8); 2018–28. ©2017 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received March 22, 2016.
- Revision received December 23, 2016.
- Accepted January 13, 2017.
- ©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.