Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Chordoma, the molecular hallmark of which is T (brachyury), is a rare malignant bone tumour with a high risk of local recurrence and a tumour from which metastatic disease is a common late event. Currently, there is no effective drug therapy for treating chordomas, although there is evidence that some patients respond to the empirical use of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antagonists. The aim of this study was to determine the role of EGFR in the pathogenesis of chordoma. Paraffin-embedded material from 173 chordomas from 160 patients [sacro-coccygeal (n = 94), skull-based (n = 50), and mobile spine (n = 16)] was analysed by immunohistochemistry and revealed total EGFR expression in 69% of cases analysed. Of 147 informative chordomas analysed by FISH, 38% revealed high-level EGFR polysomy, 4% high-level polysomy with focal amplification, 18% low-level polysomy, and 39% disomy. Phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase array membranes showed EGFR activation in the chordoma cell line U-CH1 and all of the three chordomas analysed. Direct sequencing of EGFR (exons 18-21), KRAS, NRAS, HRAS (exons 2, 3), and BRAF (exons 11, 15) using DNA from 62 chordomas failed to reveal mutations. PTEN expression was absent by immunohistochemistry in 19 of 147 (13%) analysed chordomas, only one of which revealed high-level polysomy of EGFR. The EGFR inhibitor tyrphostin (AG 1478) markedly inhibited proliferation of the chordoma cell line U-CH1 in vitro and diminished EGFR phosphorylation in a dose-dependant manner, a finding supported by inhibition of phosphorylated Erk1/2. p-Akt was suppressed to a much lesser degree in these experiments. There was no reduction of T as assessed by western blotting. These data implicate aberrant EGFR signalling in the pathogenesis of chordoma. This study provides a strategy for patient stratification for treatment with EGFR antagonists.

Original publication




Journal article


J pathol

Publication Date





336 - 346


Antineoplastic Agents, Bone Neoplasms, Cell Proliferation, Chordoma, DNA Mutational Analysis, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Evaluation, Preclinical, Enzyme Inhibitors, ErbB Receptors, Humans, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Mutation, Neoplasm Proteins, Quinazolines, Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases, Receptor, ErbB-2, Skull Base Neoplasms, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Tyrphostins