Clonal evolution and lineage plasticity are key contributors to tumor heterogeneity and response to treatment in cancer. However, capturing signal transduction events in coexisting clones remains challenging from a technical perspective. In this study, we developed and tested a signal-transduction-based workflow to isolate and profile coexisting clones within a complex cellular system like non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). Cooccurring clones were isolated under immunohistochemical guidance using laser-capture microdissection, and cell signaling activation portraits were measured using the reverse-phase protein microarray. To increase the translational potential of this work and capture druggable vulnerabilities within different clones, we measured expression/activation of a panel of key drug targets and downstream substrates of FDA-approved or investigational agents. We isolated intermixed clones, including poorly represented ones (<5% of cells), within the tumor microecology and identified molecular characteristics uniquely attributable to cancer cells that undergo lineage plasticity and neuroendocrine transdifferentiation in NSCLCs.
- immuno-guided laser capture microdissection
- neuroendocrine transdifferentiation
- non-small cell lung cancer
- reverse-phase protein microarray
- signal transduction