Biotechnic & histochemistry : official publication of the Biological Stain Commission

Detection of MET mRNA in gastric cancer in situ. Comparison with immunohistochemistry and sandwich immunoassays.

PMID 28836864


Determination of predictive biomarkers by immunohistochemistry (IHC) relies on antibodies with high selectivity. RNA in situ hybridization (RNA ISH) may be used to confirm IHC and may potentially replace it if suitable antibodies are not available or are insufficiently selective to discriminate closely related protein isoforms. We validated RNA ISH as specificity control for IHC and as a potential alternative method for selecting patients for treatment with MET inhibitors. MET, the HGF receptor, is encoded by the MET proto-oncogene that may be activated by mutation or amplification. MET expression and activity were tested in a panel of control cell lines. MET could be detected in formalin fixed paraffin, embedded (FFPE) samples by IHC and RNA ISH, and this was confirmed by sandwich immunoassays of fresh frozen samples. Gastric cancer cell lines with high MET expression and phosphorylation of tyrosine-1349 respond to the MET inhibitor, BAY-853474. High expression and phosphorylation of MET is a predictive biomarker for response to MET inhibitors. We then analyzed MET expression and activity in a matched set of FFPE vs. fresh frozen tumor samples consisting of 20 cases of gastric cancer. Two of 20 clinical samples investigated exhibited high MET expression with RNA ISH and IHC. Both cases were shown by sandwich immunoassays to exhibits strong functional activity. Expression levels and functional activity in these two cases were in a range that predicted response to treatment. Our findings indicate that owing to its high selectivity, RNA ISH can be used to confirm findings obtained by IHC and potentially may replace IHC for certain targets if no suitable antibodies are available. RNA ISH is a valid platform for testing predictive biomarkers for patient selection.