Response and acquired resistance to MET inhibitors in de novo MET fusion-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer

Lung Cancer. 2023 Apr:178:66-74. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2023.01.017. Epub 2023 Feb 1.


Objectives: De novo mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) gene fusions in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are a promising target for MET tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We aimed to examine the response to targeted therapy with MET TKIs and resistance mechanisms in de novo MET fusion-positive NSCLC as these have not been comprehensively explored.

Materials and methods: We examined the MET fusions in 4,429 patients with advanced-stage NSCLC using targeted next-generation sequencing and validated the results using RT-PCR. We analyzed cellular models harboring MET fusions and established a patient-derived organoid (PDO) model.

Results: We identified 13 (0.29 %, 13/4429) patients with de novo MET fusions and found EPHB4, THAP5, TNPO3, and DST as novel MET fusion partners. The most common concomitant gene with MET fusions was TP53 mutations. Among 12 patients receiving MET TKI treatment, two achieved stable disease, six achieved partial response, and four underwent progressive disease. An in vitro study showed that EPHB4-MET is a functional driver gene. MET inhibitors significantly inhibited the proliferation and phosphorylation of downstream STAT3, AKT, and ERK1/2 in EPHB4-MET overexpressing cells. Acquired MET D1228H/N or D1246N mutations were found in patients harboring MET fusions after acquiring resistance to MET TKIs. Tivantinib showed optimal suppression efficacy in a PDO model with an acquired MET D1228N mutation.

Conclusion: MET fusions occur in a rare subset of patients with NSCLC and represent a promising therapeutic target. MET secondary mutations D1228H/N or D1246N present the potential resistance mechanisms of MET inhibitors in patients with de novo MET fusions.

Keywords: EPHB4-MET; MET fusions; Non-small cell lung cancer; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • beta Karyopherins / genetics


  • ErbB Receptors
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • TNPO3 protein, human
  • beta Karyopherins