Targeted expression of the receptor tyrosine kinase RON in distal lung epithelial cells results in multiple tumor formation: oncogenic potential of RON in vivo

Oncogene. 2002 Sep 12;21(41):6382-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1205783.


RON, a member of the MET proto-oncogene family, has been implicated in the progression of certain epithelial cancers. The purpose of this study was to determine the oncogenic potential of RON in vivo in lung epithelial cells. Transgenic mice were established using surfactant protein C promoter to express human RON in the distal lung epithelial cells. These mice were born normal but developed multiple lung tumors with distinct morphology and growth patterns. Tumors appeared as a single mass in the lung around 2 months of age and gradually developed into multiple nodules located mostly in the peripheral portions of the lung. A transition from early adenomas to later adenocarcinomas was observed. Morphologically, tumors were characterized as cuboidal epithelial cells with a type II cell phenotype, grew along the alveolar walls, and projected into the alveolar septa. RON was highly expressed and constitutively activated in tumors. These results indicate that overexpression of human wild-type RON causes the formation of lung tumors with unique biological characteristics in vivo. This model provides opportunities to study the role of RON in the pathogenesis of lung tumors and to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this distinct lung tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / biosynthesis
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics*
  • Transgenes


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • RON protein
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases