MET deletion is a frequent event in gastric/gastroesophageal junction/esophageal cancer: a cross-sectional analysis of gene status and signal distribution in 1,580 patients

Ann Transl Med. 2021 Feb;9(3):225. doi: 10.21037/atm-20-4081.


Background: MET gene aberrations are found in several human cancers including gastric, ovarian and lung. In a large multinational cohort of patients with gastric/gastroesophageal junction/esophageal (G/GEJ/E) adenocarcinoma we assessed the MET status with respect to amplification and deletion and correlate the results with the phenotypical gene signal distribution pattern.

Methods: Tissue specimens from 1,580 patients were analyzed using a novel fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay employing a MET/CEN-7 IQFISH Probe Mix. MET amplification and deletions were defined as a MET/CEN-7 ratio ≥2.0 and a MET/CEN-7 ratio <0.8, respectively. Furthermore, the link between the MET gene status and the phenotypical signal distribution was investigated.

Results: The prevalence of MET amplification and deletions was found to be 7.2% and 8.7%, respectively. Significant differences were observed with regard to geographic regions and sex. The Asian population had the highest percentage of MET amplification (9.4%) and the lowest percentage of deletions (3.2%). MET deletions was found more frequently among males (10.1%) compared to females (5.3%) and in esophagus (17.6%) compared to the stomach (5.7%). More than 50% of the patients who harbored MET gene amplification had a heterogeneous distribution of the FISH signals. Patients with a focal signal distribution were solely to be found among the MET amplified population. MET deletion were mainly observed in the group of patients with a homogenous signal distribution.

Conclusions: The screening data from this cross-sectional study showed that MET deletion and amplification are frequent events in G/GEJ/E cancer, which are linked to different phenotypical signal distribution patterns. The role of MET deletion in relation to tumor development is not fully understood but it is likely to play a role in the oncogenic transformation of the cells.

Keywords: Mesenchymal epithelial transition factor gene (MET); amplification; deletion; fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH); gastric cancer.