Lung adenocarcinoma subtypes based on expression of human airway basal cell genes

Tomoya Fukui, Renat Shaykhiev, Francisco Agosto-Perez, Jason G. Mezey, Robert J. Downey, William D. Travis, Ronald Crystal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Lung cancer, including lung adenocarcinoma, is a heterogeneous disease, which evolves from molecular alterations in the airway epithelium. This study explores whether a subtype of lung adenocarcinomas expresses the unique molecular features of human airway basal cells (BCs), and how expression of the airway BC features correlates with the molecular, pathological and clinical phenotype of lung adenocarcinoma. Three independent lung adenocarcinoma data sets were analysed for expression of genes that constitute the airway BC signature. Expression of the BC signature in lung adenocarcinoma was then correlated to clinical and biological parameters. Remarkable enrichment of airway BC signature genes was found in lung adenocarcinomas. A subset of lung adenocarcinomas (BC-high adenocarcinoma) exhibited high expression of BC signature genes in association with poorer tumour grade, higher frequency of vascular invasion and shorter survival than adenocarcinomas with lower expression of these genes. At the molecular level, BC-high adenocarcinomas displayed a higher frequency of KRAS mutations, activation of transcriptional networks and pathways related to cell cycle, extracellular matrix organisation, and a distinct differentiation pattern with suppression of ciliated and exocrine bronchiolar cell (Clara cell)-related genes. Activation of the airway BC programme is a molecular feature of a distinct, aggressive subtype of lung adenocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1332-1344
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

Cite this

Fukui, T., Shaykhiev, R., Agosto-Perez, F., Mezey, J. G., Downey, R. J., Travis, W. D., & Crystal, R. (2013). Lung adenocarcinoma subtypes based on expression of human airway basal cell genes. European Respiratory Journal, 42(5), 1332-1344.