The MET axis as a therapeutic target

Update Cancer Ther. 2009 Apr 1;3(3):109-118. doi: 10.1016/j.uct.2009.01.001.


The MET receptor tyrosine kinase and its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) have been implicated in transformation of a variety of malignancies. Chronic or dysregulated activation of the MET/HGF pathway may lead to increased cell growth, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis, reduced apoptosis, altered cytoskeletal functions and other biological changes. It has been suggested that ligand activated MET stimulation can be sufficient for a transforming phenotype. In addition, amplification and activation mutations (germline and/or somatic) within the tyrosine kinase domain, juxtamembrane domain, or semaphorin domain have been identified for MET. MET gain-of-function mutations lead to either deregulated or prolonged tyrosine kinase activity, which are instrumental to its transforming activity. A number of therapeutic strategies targeting ligand-dependent activation or the kinase domain have been employed to inhibit MET. The different structural requirements for activation of signaling events and biological functions regulated by MET will be summarized. Therapeutic targets and current pre-clinical and clinical approaches will be described. Targeting the HGF/MET pathway, alone or in combination with standard therapies, is likely to improve present therapies in MET-dependent malignancies.