Abstract: Signaling from the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase is associated with progression and metastasis of epithelial tumors. c-Met, the receptor for hepatocyte growth factor, triggers epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cultured cells, which is thought to drive migration of tumor cells and confer on them critical stem cell properties. Here, we employ mathematical modeling to better understand how EMT affects population dynamics in metastatic tumors. We find that without intervention, micrometastatic tumors reach a steady-state population. While the rates of proliferation, senescence and death only have subtle effects on the steady state, changes in the frequency of EMT dramatically alter population dynamics towards exponential growth. We also find that therapies targeting cell proliferation or cell death are markedly more successful when combined with one that prevents EMT, though such therapies do little when used alone. Stochastic modeling reveals the probability of tumor recurrence from small numbers of residual differentiated tumor cells. EMT events in metastatic tumors provide a plausible mechanism by which clinically detectable tumors can arise from dormant micrometastatic tumors. Modeling the dynamics of this process demonstrates the benefit of a treatment that eradicates tumor cells and reduces the rate of EMT simultaneously.
Abstract: Monoclonal antibodies can be seen as valuable tools for many aspects of basic as well as applied sciences. In the case of MET/HGFR, they allowed the identification of truncated isoforms of the receptor, as well as the dissection of different epitopes, establishing structure–function relationships. Antibodies directed against MET extracellular domain were found to be full or partial receptor agonists or antagonists. The agonists can mimic the effects of the different isoforms of the natural ligand, but with the advantage of being more stable than the latter. Thus, some agonist antibodies promote all the biological responses triggered by MET activation, including motility, proliferation, morphogenesis, and protection from apoptosis, while others can induce only a migratory response. On the other hand, antagonists can inhibit MET-driven biological functions either by competing with the ligand or by removing the receptor from the cell surface. Since MET/HGFR is often over-expressed and/or aberrantly activated in tumors, monoclonal antibodies can be used as probes for MET detection or as “bullets” to target MET-expressing tumor cells, thus pointing to their use in diagnosis and therapy.
Abstract: The Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)—mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) pathway is deregulated in several cancers and is associated with aggressive phenotype and worse prognosis. MET, a tyrosine kinase receptor activated by HGF, plays a physiological role in embryogenesis, promoting cell growth, survival and motility. HGF–MET aberrant activation in tumorigenesis acts through various mechanisms: paracrine/autocrine HGF production, MET overexpression, MET germ-line and sporadic mutations and cross-talk with other growth factor receptors. In addition, MET activation could represent a mechanism of escape from other targeted therapies, through receptor amplification or over-stimulation by the ligand, as demonstrated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and colorectal cancer (CRC) models with acquired resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors and also in models of melanoma resistant to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. As a consequence, a lot of molecules targeting MET signaling are under clinical investigation as single agent or in combination with other targeted drugs. Patient selection, based on MET expression on tumor samples (eventually, by re-biopsy of new metastatic sites), and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic markers are needed. Authors review the latest data on the role of MET and the molecular mechanism underlying primary or acquired resistance to biological agents, focusing on NSCLC, CRC and melanoma.
Abstract: Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a highly aggressive cancer related to asbestos or erionite exposure and resistant to current therapies. Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) and its tyrosine kinase receptor Met regulate cell growth, survival, motility/migration, and invasion. HGF and Met are expressed in MM cells, suggesting that the HGF/Met signaling plays a role in development and progression of this tumor, by autocrine and/or paracrine mechanisms. Upregulation and ligand-independent activation of Met, which is under suppressive control of miR-34 family members, correlate with enhanced invasion, migration and metastatic potential in several cancers, including MM. Moreover, Simian Virus 40 (SV40) Tag expression also induces a HGF autocrine circuit in an Rb-dependent manner in human mesothelial cells (HM) and possibly other cell types, enhancing cell adhesion, invasion and angiogenesis. The resulting activation of Met causes HM transformation and cell cycle progression, and contributes to virus particle assembling and infection of adjacent cells. The constitutive activation of Met, frequently occurring in MM, has been successfully targeted in preclinical models of MM. In conclusion, Met expression, activation state, subcellular localization and also HGF co-receptors expression, such as CD44, have clinical relevance for novel targeted therapies in a cancer for which no effective treatment is currently available.
Abstract: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), also known as scatter factor (SF), is a pleotropic factor required for normal organ development during embryogenesis. In the adult, basal expression of HGF maintains tissue homeostasis and is up-regulated in response to tissue injury. HGF expression is necessary for the proliferation, migration, and survival of epithelial and endothelial cells involved in tissue repair in a variety of organs, including heart, lung, kidney, liver, brain, and skin. The administration of full length HGF, either as a protein or using exogenous expression methodologies, increases tissue repair in animal models of tissue injury and increases angiogenesis. Full length HGF is comprised of an N-terminal hairpin turn, four kringle domains, and a serine protease-like domain. Several naturally occurring alternatively spliced isoforms of HGF were also identified. The NK1 variant contains the N-terminal hairpin and the first kringle domain, and the NK2 variant extends through the second kringle domain. These alternatively spliced forms of HGF activate the same receptor, MET, but they differ from the full length protein in their cellular activities and their biological functions. Here, we review the species-specific expression of the HGF isoforms, their regulation, the signal transduction pathways they activate, and their biological activities.
Abstract: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is composed of an α-chain and a β-chain, and these chains contain four kringle domains and a serine protease-like structure, respectively. Activation of the HGF–Met pathway evokes dynamic biological responses that support morphogenesis (e.g., epithelial tubulogenesis), regeneration, and the survival of cells and tissues. Characterizations of conditional Met knockout mice have indicated that the HGF–Met pathway plays important roles in regeneration, protection, and homeostasis in various cells and tissues, which includes hepatocytes, renal tubular cells, and neurons. Preclinical studies designed to address the therapeutic significance of HGF have been performed on injury/disease models, including acute tissue injury, chronic fibrosis, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. The promotion of cell growth, survival, migration, and morphogenesis that is associated with extracellular matrix proteolysis are the biological activities that underlie the therapeutic actions of HGF. Recombinant HGF protein and the expression vectors for HGF are biological drug candidates for the treatment of patients with diseases and injuries that are associated with impaired tissue function. The intravenous/systemic administration of recombinant HGF protein has been well tolerated in phase I/II clinical trials. The phase-I and phase-I/II clinical trials of the intrathecal administration of HGF protein for the treatment of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal cord injury, respectively, are ongoing.