Department of Physiology and the Cancer Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) being the predominant form of the disease. Most of lung cancer is caused by the accumulation of genomic alterations due to tobacco exposure. To uncover its mutational landscape, we performed whole exome sequencing in 31 NSCLC and their matched normal tissue samples. We identified both common and unique mutation spectra and pathway activation in lung adenocarcinomas (ADC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), two major histologies in NSCLC. In addition to identifying previously known lung cancer genes (TP53, KRAS, EGFR, CDKN2A and RB1), the analysis revealed many genes not previously implicated in this malignancy. Notably, a novel gene CSMD3 was identified as the second most frequently mutated gene (next to TP53) in lung cancer. We further demonstrated that loss of CSMD3 results in increased proliferation of airway epithelial cells. The study provides unprecedented insights into mutational processes, cellular pathways and gene networks associated with lung cancer. Of potential immediate clinical relevance, several highly mutated genes identified in our study are promising druggable targets in cancer therapy including ALK, CTNNA3, DCC, MLL3, PCDHIIX, PIK3C2B, PIK3CG and ROCK2.