Activated MET is a molecular prognosticator and potential therapeutic target for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors

Keila E. Torres, Quan Sheng Zhu, Katelynn Bill, Gonzalo Lopez, Markus P. Ghadimi, Xianbiao Xie, Eric D. Young, Juehui Liu, Theresa Nguyen, Svetlana Bolshakov, Roman Belousov, Suizhau Wang, Guy Lahat, Jun Liu, Belinda Hernandez, Alexander J. Lazar, Dina Lev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Purpose: MET signaling has been suggested a potential role in malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). Here, MET function and blockade were preclinically assessed. Experimental Design: Expression levels of MET, its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and phosphorylated MET (pMET) were examined in a clinically annotated MPNST tissue microarray (TMA) incorporating univariable and multivariable statistical analyses. Human MPNST cells were studied in vitro and in vivo; Western blot (WB) and ELISA were used to evaluate MET and HGF expression, activation, and downstream signaling. Cell culture assays tested the impact of HGF-induced MET activation and anti-MET-specific siRNA inhibition on cell proliferation, migration, and invasion; in vivo gel-foam assays were used to evaluate angiogenesis. Cells stably transduced with anti-MET short hairpin RNA (shRNA) constructs were tested for growth and metastasis in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. The effect of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor XL184 (Exelixis) targeting MET/VEGFR2 (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2) on local and metastatic MPNST growth was examined in vivo. Results: All three markers were expressed in MPNST human samples; pMET expression was an independent prognosticator of poor patient outcome. Human MPNST cell lines expressed MET, HGF, and pMET. MET activation increased MPNST cell motility, invasion, angiogenesis, and induced matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2) and VEGF expression; MET knockdown had inverse effects in vitro markedly decreased local and metastatic growth in vivo. XL184 abrogated human MPNST xenograft growth and metastasis in SCID mice. Conclusions: Informative prognosticators and novel therapies are crucially needed to improve MPNST management and outcomes. We show an important role for MET in MPNST, supporting continued investigation of novel anti-MET therapies in this clinical context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3943-3955
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Cancer InstituteR01CA138345


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