The c-MET proto-oncogene product is a transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptor which was recently shown to transmit an array of important cellular responses induced by Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF). These biological effects include induction of mitogenesis, motogenesis, morphogenesis, metastogenesis and anti-tumor activity on a variety of epithelial cells. All of these processes are known to be associated with normal and abnormal tissue growth and development. The 190 kDa c-MET protein is encoded by a major transcript of 8 kilobases (kb), which is reported to be expressed predominantly in epithelial tissues. The expression pattern of c-MET mRNA and protein are drastically modified in many tumor tissues and cell lines. Currently, no information is available on the molecular mechanisms that regulate c-MET mRNA level. In the present communication, we report for the first time that the inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 alpha, IL-6 and TNF-alpha, as well as TGF-beta 1, EGF, HGF and the steroidal hormones (estrogen, progesterone, tamoxifen and dexamethasone) markedly influence the steady-state levels of the 8 kb c-MET mRNA in human carcinoma cell lines derived from human tissues such as ovary, breast and endometrium. We demonstrate that c-MET receptor protein is present at high levels in primary tumors of human ovaries (clear cell carcinomas). We present evidence that the 8 kb c-MET mRNA undergoes rapid degradation with a half-life of less than 30 min and that this decay can be quickly inhibited by cycloheximide. Our results suggest that the expression of the c-met proto-oncogene resembles that of an immediate early response gene.