Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most aggressive forms of human cancer with poor prognosis due to late diagnosis and metastasis. Common genomic alterations in ESCC include p53 mutation, p120ctn inactivation, and overexpression of oncogenes such as cyclin D1, EGFR, and c-Met. Using esophageal epithelial cells transformed by the overexpression of EGFR and p53(R175H), we find novel evidence of a functional link between p53(R175H) and the c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase to mediate tumor cell invasion. Increased c-Met receptor activation was observed upon p53(R175H) expression and enhanced further upon subsequent EGFR overexpression. We inhibited c-Met phosphorylation, resulting in diminished invasion of the genetically transformed primary esophageal epithelial cells (EPC-hTERT-EGFR-p53(R175H)), suggesting that the mechanism of increased invasiveness upon EGFR and p53(R175H) expression may be the result of increased c-Met activation. These results suggest that the use of therapeutics directed at c-Met in ESCC and other squamous cell cancers.
Keywords: c-Met; esophageal cancer; p53 mutation; tumor invasion.