c-Met as a target for human cancer and characterization of inhibitors for therapeutic intervention

Cancer Lett. 2005 Jul 8;225(1):1-26. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2004.09.044. Epub 2004 Nov 11.


Receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) targeted agents such as trastuzumab, imatinib, bevacizumab, and gefitinib inhibitors have illustrated the utility of targeting this protein class for treatment of selected cancers. A unique member of the RTK family, c-Met, also represents an intriguing target for cancer therapy that is yet to be explored in a clinical setting. The proto-oncogene, c-Met, encodes the high-affinity receptor for hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) or scatter factor (SF). c-Met and HGF are each required for normal mammalian development and have been shown to be particularly important in cell migration, morphogenic differentiation, and organization of three-dimensional tubular structures (e.g. renal tubular cells, gland formation, etc.) as well as cell growth and angiogenesis. Both c-Met and HGF have been shown to be deregulated in and to correlate with poor prognosis in a number of major human cancers. New data describing the constitutive phosphorylation of c-Met in a number of human tumors is presented here along with a variety of mechanisms by which c-Met can become activated, including mutation and gene amplification. In support of the clinical data implicating c-Met activation in the pathogenesis of human cancers, introduction of c-Met and HGF (or mutant c-Met) into cells conferred the properties of motility, invasiveness, and tumorgenicity to the transformed cells. Conversely, the inhibition of c-Met with a variety of receptor antagonists inhibited the motility, invasiveness, and tumorgenicity of human tumor cell lines. Consistent with this observation, small-molecule inhibitors of c-Met were developed that antagonized c-Met/HGF-dependent phenotypes and tumor growth in mouse models. This review will address the potential for development of c-Met inhibitors for treatment of human cancers with particular emphasis on recent findings with small-molecule inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Amplification
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Phenotype
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / physiology*


  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met