Evaluation of FGFR3 as a Therapeutic Target in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Anne von Mässenhausen, Mario Deng, Hannah Billig, Angela Queisser, Wenzel Vogel, Glen Kristiansen, Andreas Schröck, Friedrich Bootz, Friederike Göke, Alina Franzen, Lynn Heasley, Jutta Kirfel, Johannes Brägelmann, Sven Perner*

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common tumour entity worldwide, it remains a clinical challenge. Large-scale explorative genomic projects have identified several genes as potential targets for therapy, including fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3). Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the biological significance of wild-type and mutated FGFR3 to evaluate its potential as a novel therapeutic target in HNSCC. Methods: FGFR3 protein expression was analysed in a large HNSCC tissue cohort (n = 536) and FGFR3 mRNA expression from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA; n = 520). Moreover, FGFR3 wild-type and mutant versions were overexpressed in vitro, and both proliferation and migration was assessed with and without BGJ398 (a specific FGFR1-3 inhibitor) treatment. Results: Although FGFR3 expression for both cohorts decreased during tumour progression, high FGFR3 expression levels were observed in a small subset of patients. In vitro, FGFR3 overexpression led to increased proliferation, whereas migration was not altered. Moreover, FGFR3-overexpressing cells were more sensitive to BGJ398. Cells overexpressing FGFR3 mutant versions showed increased proliferation compared to wild-type FGFR3 under serum-reduced conditions and were largely as sensitive as the wild-type protein to BGJ398. Conclusions: Taken together, the results of this study demonstrate that although FGFR3 expression decreases during HNSSC progression, it plays an important role in tumour cell proliferation and thus may be a potential target for therapy in selected patients suffering from this dismal tumour entity. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
JournalTargeted Oncology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)631-642
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2016


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