MET and RON receptor tyrosine kinases in colorectal adenocarcinoma: molecular features as drug targets and antibody-drug conjugates for therapy

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 22;39(1):198. doi: 10.1186/s13046-020-01711-x.


Advanced colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRAC), featured by distinctive histopathological appearance, distant organ metastasis, acquired chemoresistance, and tumorigenic stemness is a group of heterogeneous cancers with unique genetic signatures and malignant phenotypes. Treatment of CRAC is a daunting task for oncologists. Currently, various strategies including molecular targeting using therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, small molecule kinase inhibitors and immunoregulatory checkpoint therapy have been applied to combat this deadly disease. However, these therapeutic modalities and approaches achieve only limited success. Thus, there is a pharmaceutical need to discover new targets and develop novel therapeutics for CRAC therapy. MET and RON receptor tyrosine kinases have been implicated in CRAC pathogenesis. Clinical studies have revealed that aberrant MET and/or RON expression and signaling are critical in regulating CRAC progression and malignant phenotypes. Increased MET and/or RON expression also has prognostic value for CRAC progression and patient survival. These features provide the rationale to target MET and RON for clinical CRAC intervention. At present, the use of small molecule kinase inhibitors targeting MET for CRAC treatment has achieved significant progress with several approvals for clinical application. Nevertheless, antibody-based biotherapeutics, although under clinical trials for more than 8 years, have made very little progress. In this review, we discuss the importance of MET and/or RON in CRAC tumorigenesis and development of anti-MET, anti-RON, and MET and RON-dual targeting antibody-drug conjugates for clinical application. The findings from both preclinical studies and clinical trials highlight the potential of this novel type of biotherapeutics for CRAC therapy in the future.

Keywords: Antibody-drug conjugates; Clinical trials; Colorectal cancer; Dual targeting antibody; Pharmaceutic efficacy; Pharmacokinetics; Receptor tyrosine kinase; Therapeutic monoclonal antibody; Toxicology; Tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / chemistry
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use
  • Mice
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / genetics*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics*
  • Small Molecule Libraries / therapeutic use
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Immunoconjugates
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • MET protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met
  • RON protein
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases