RNA-mediated gene silencing of the RON receptor tyrosine kinase alters oncogenic phenotypes of human colorectal carcinoma cells

Oncogene. 2004 Nov 4;23(52):8464-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207907.


Altered expression of receptor tyrosine kinases contributes to tumorigenic behaviors of epithelial cancers. In this study, the pathogenic roles of receptor tyrosine kinase RON (recepteur d'origine nantais) in regulating oncogenic phenotypes in colorectal epithelial cells were studied. Increased expression of RON and its variants resulted in colony formation and motile activities of colonic epithelial AA/C1 cells as evident in soft-agar and migration assays, respectively. These results suggest that overexpression of wild-type RON mediates the transformed phenotypes in immortalized colon epithelial cells. In colorectal cancer cells (HT-29, HCT116, and SW620) that naturally express RON, the RON gene expression was silenced by RNA interference. The introduction of RON-specific small interfering (si) RNA significantly affected cancer cell proliferation, motility, and led to increased apoptotic cell death. Focus-forming activities and anchorage-independent growth of colon cancer cells were also dramatically reduced. Moreover, it was demonstrated in tumor growth assays that silencing RON gene expression significantly reduces tumorigenic activities of SW620 cells in vivo. By analysing signaling proteins involved in colon carcinogenesis, we found that the effect of RON-specific siRNA is associated with diminished expression of beta-catenin, a critical component in the Wnt signaling pathway. Taken together, our results demonstrate that altered expression of RON in colon cancer cells is required to maintain tumorigenic phenotypes. Thus, silencing RON gene expression could have potential to reverse malignant activities of colon tumors in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing / physiology*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin
  • RON protein
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases