c-Met overexpression contributes to the acquired apoptotic resistance of nonadherent ovarian cancer cells through a cross talk mediated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2

Neoplasia. 2010 Feb;12(2):128-38. doi: 10.1593/neo.91438.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer mainly because of widespread peritoneal dissemination and malignant ascites. Key to this is the capacity of tumor cells to escape suspension-induced apoptosis (anoikis), which also underlies their resistance to chemotherapy. Here, we used a nonadherent cell culture model to investigate the molecular mechanisms of apoptotic resistance of ovarian cancer cells that may mimic the chemoresistance found in solid tumors. We found that ovarian cancer cells acquired a remarkable resistance to anoikis and apoptosis induced by exposure to clinically relevant doses of two front-line chemotherapeutic drugs cisplatin and paclitaxel when grown in three-dimensional than monolayer cultures. Inhibition of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor c-Met, which is frequently overexpressed in ovarian cancer, by a specific inhibitor or small interfering RNA blocked the acquired anoikis resistance and restored chemosensitivity in three-dimensional not in two-dimensional cultures. These effects were found to be dependent on both phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 signaling pathways. Inhibitors of PI3K/Akt abrogated ERK1/2 activation and its associated anoikis resistance in response to HGF, suggesting a signaling relay between these two pathways. Furthermore, we identified a central role of Ras as a mechanism of this cross talk. Interestingly, Ras did not lie upstream of PI3K/Akt, whereas PI3K/Akt signaling to ERK1/2 involved Ras. These findings shed new light on the apoptotic resistance mechanism of nonadherent ovarian cancer ascites cells and may have important clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anoikis / drug effects
  • Anoikis / physiology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Female
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / metabolism*
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / drug effects
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / physiology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 1
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 3
  • ras Proteins
  • Paclitaxel
  • Cisplatin