Truncated RON tyrosine kinase drives tumor cell progression and abrogates cell-cell adhesion through E-cadherin transcriptional repression

Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 1;64(15):5154-61. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-0600.


RON is a tyrosine kinase receptor that triggers scattering of normal cells and invasive growth of cancer cells on ligand binding. We identified a short RON mRNA, which is expressed in human lung, ovary, tissues of the gastrointestinal tract, and also in several human cancers, including ovarian carcinomas and cell lines from pancreatic carcinomas and leukemias. This transcript encodes a truncated protein (short-form RON; sf-RON), lacking most of the RON receptor extracellular domain but retaining the whole transmembrane and intracellular domains. Sf-RON shows strong intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity and is constitutively phosphorylated. Epithelial cells transduced with sf-RON display an aggressive phenotype; they shift to a nonepithelial morphology, are unable to form aggregates, grow faster in monolayer cultures, show anchorage-independent growth, and become motile. We show that in these cells, E-cadherin expression is lost through a dominant transcriptional repression pathway likely mediated by the transcriptional factor SLUG. Altogether, these data show that expression of a naturally occurring, constitutively active truncated RON kinase results in loss of epithelial phenotype and aggressive behavior and, thus, it might contribute to tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Movement
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Suppression, Genetic*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Cadherins
  • SNAI1 protein, human
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Luciferases
  • RON protein
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases