Strongly overexpressed during mitosis, EML4 is necessary for correct microtubuleformation.
EML4 is involved in fusions with ALK (inv(2)(p21p23)) in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). EML4-ALK fusion transcript is detectable in a low amount (frequency between 2,7% and 6,7%) of NSCLC-samples and NSCLC-cell-lines. EML4-ALK is a protein tyrosine kinase, which is constitutively dimerized and thus activated.
Alk-inhibitors impede proliferation in EML4-ALK-fusion positive lung cancer cell-lines. In experiments with transgenic mice, treatment with ALK-inhibitors resulted in reduced tumor mass. The EML4-ALK fusion gene was identified as a potentially targetable oncogenic driver in non-small cell lung cancer in 2007. A small molecule ALK inhibitor, crizotinib, may now be on the verge of approval by the FDA for the treatment of ALK-rearranged lung cancer (GerberDE, Minna JD 2010).
References (free access):
ALK inhibition for non-small cell lung cancer: from discovery to therapy in record time. GerberDE, Minna JD.Cancer Cell. 2010 Dec 14;18(6):548-51.
EML4-ALK mutations in lung cancer that confer resistance to ALK inhibitors. Choi YL, Soda M, Yamashita Y, Ueno T, Takashima J, Nakajima T, Yatabe Y, Takeuchi K, Hamada T, Haruta H, Ishikawa Y, Kimura H, Mitsudomi T, Tanio Y, Mano H; ALK Lung Cancer Study Group. N Engl J Med. 2010 Oct 28;363(18):1734-9.