Monoclonal antibody (mAb)-induced down-regulation of RON receptor tyrosine kinase diminishes tumorigenic activities of colon cancer cells

Int J Oncol. 2010 Aug;37(2):473-82. doi: 10.3892/ijo_00000696.


Overexpression of the RON receptor tyrosine kinase contributes to pathogenesis of epithelial cancers and disruption of RON signals has potential for therapeutic intervention. Here, we report the inhibitory effects of monoclonal antibodies (Zt/g4, Zt/f2 and Zt/c9) on RON expression and tumorigenic activities in colon cancer cells. Persistent treatment of colon SW620 or other cells with Zt/g4 dramatically down-regulated RON expression as evident by Western blot and cell surface fluorescent analyses. The effect was both concentration and time-dependent and specific to RON but not to structure-related MET or -unrelated EGFR. The cause of reduction was antibody-induced receptor internalization followed by protein degradation through lysosome and proteasome-mediated pathways. Down-regulation of RON impaired intracellular signaling events. Phosphorylation of Erk1/2 and AKT was dramatically reduced after Zt/g4 treatment. Zt/g4 treatment also affects activities of DVL and GSK-3beta, which results in diminished beta-catenin nuclear translocation. Functional studies revealed that Zt/g4 treatment changes cellular morphology and affects colony formation in soft agar. It also increased the sensitivity of SW620 cells in response to gemcitabine-induced cytotoxicity. In this case, the death of SW620 cells was significantly increased when Zt/g4 was used in combination with gemcitabine. We conclude that persistent treatment of cancer cells with antibodies specific to RON extracellular domains results in down-regulation of RON expression. The reduced RON expression is accompanied with impaired signaling events, diminished tumorigenic activities and enhanced sensitivity towards cytotoxic drugs. Thus, Zt/g4-directed targeting could have therapeutic implication for controlling tumorigenic phenotypes of cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • RON protein
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases