Human lung adenosquamous cell carcinoma (LUAS), containing both adenomatous and squamous pathologies, exhibits strong cancer plasticity. We find that ALK rearrangement is detectable in 5.1–7.5% of human LUAS, and transgenic expression of EML4-ALK drives lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) formation initially and squamous transition at late stage. We identify club cells as the main cell-of-origin for squamous transition. Through recapitulating lineage transition in organoid system, we identify JAK-STAT signaling, activated by EML4-ALK phase separation, significantly promotes squamous transition. Integrative study with scRNA-seq and immunostaining identify a plastic cell subpopulation in ALK-rearranged human LUAD showing squamous biomarker expression. Moreover, those relapsed ALK-rearranged LUAD show notable upregulation of squamous biomarkers. Consistently, mouse squamous tumors or LUAD with squamous signature display certain resistance to ALK inhibitor, which can be overcome by combined JAK1/2 inhibitor treatment. This study uncovers strong plasticity of ALK-rearranged tumors in orchestrating phenotypic transition and drug resistance and proposes a potentially effective therapeutic strategy.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at
You do not currently have access to this content.