• Open Access

Activated c-Met signals through PI3K with dramatic effects on cytoskeletal functions in small cell lung cancer


*Correspondence to: Ravi SALGIA, MD, PhD, Division of Adult Oncology, Dana 1234B, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St. Boston, MA 02115 Tel: 617-632-3468, Fax: 617-632-4379, E-mail: ravi_salgia@dfci.harvard.edu


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive illness with early metastases. There are several receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) overexpressed in SCLC, including c-Met. c-Met contains an external semaphorin-like domain, a cytoplasmic juxtamembrane domain, tyrosine kinase domain and multiple tyrosines that bind to adapter molecules. We have previously reported that c-Met is abundantly expressed in the NCI-H69 SCLC cell line and now have determined the downstream effects of stimulating c-Met via its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Utilizing unique phospho-specific antibodies generated against various tyrosines of c-Met, we show that Y1003 (binding site for c-Cb1 and a negative regulatory site), Y1313 (binding site for PI3K), Y1230/Y1234/Y1235 (autophosphorylation site), Y1349 (binding site for Grb2), Y1365 (important in cell morphogenesis) are phosphorylated in response to HGF (40 ng/ml, 7.5 min) in H69 cells. Since multiple biological and biochemical effects are transduced through the PI3K pathway, we determine the role of PI3K in the c-Met/HGF stimulation pathway. We initially determined that by inhibiting PI3K with LY294002 (50μM over 72 hours), there was at least a 55% decrease in viability of H69 cells. Since H69 SCLC cells form clusters in cell culture, we determined the effects of HGF and LY294002 on cell motility of the clusters by time-lapse video microscopy. In response to HGF, SCLC moved much faster and formed more clusters, and this was inhibited by LY294002. Finally, we determined the downstream signal transduction of HGF stimulation of c-Met with and without inhibition of c-Met (with geldanamycin, an anisamycin antibiotic that inhibits c-Met in SCLC) or PI3K (with LY294002). We show that association of c-Met with PI3K and GAB2 is diminished by inhibiting c-Met. In summary, activation of the c-Met pathway targets the PI3K pathway in SCLC and this may be an important therapeutic target.