Cancer research

Functional expression and mutations of c-Met and its therapeutic inhibition with SU11274 and small interfering RNA in non-small cell lung cancer.

PMID 15735036


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a difficult disease to treat. The c-Met receptor is an attractive potential target for novel therapeutic inhibition in human cancers. We provide strong evidence that c-Met is overexpressed, activated, and sometimes mutated in NSCLC cell lines and tumor tissues. Expression of c-Met was found in all (100%) of the NSCLC tumor tissues examined (n = 23) and most (89%) of the cell lines (n = 9). Sixty-one percent of tumor tissues strongly expressed total c-Met, especially adenocarcinoma (67%). Specific expression of phospho-Met (p-Met) [Y1003] and [Y1230/1234/1235] was seen by immunohistochemistry. p-Met expression was preferentially observed at the NSCLC tumor invasive fronts. c-Met alterations were identified within the semaphorin domain (E168D, L299F, S323G, and N375S) and the juxtamembrane domain (R988C, R988C + T1010I, S1058P, and alternative splice product skipping entire juxtamembrane domain) of a NSCLC cell line and adenocarcinoma tissues. We validated c-Met as potential therapeutic target using small interfering RNA down-regulation of the receptor expression by 50% to 60% in NSCLC cells. This led to inhibition of p-Met and phospho-AKT and up to 57.1 +/- 7.2% cell viability inhibition at 72 hours. The selective small molecule inhibitor of c-Met SU11274 inhibited cell viability in c-Met-expressing NSCLC cells. SU11274 also abrogated hepatocyte growth factor-induced phosphorylation of c-Met and its downstream signaling. Here, we provide first direct evidence by small interfering RNA targeting and small molecule inhibitor that c-Met is important in NSCLC biology and biochemistry. These results indicate that c-Met inhibition will be an important therapeutic strategy against NSCLC to improve its clinical outcome.