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Cancer Res. 2003 Sep 1;63(17):5462-9.

A novel small molecule met inhibitor induces apoptosis in cells transformed by the oncogenic TPR-MET tyrosine kinase.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The Met receptor tyrosine kinase has been shown to be overexpressed or mutated in a variety of solid tumors and has, therefore, been identified as a good candidate for molecularly targeted therapy. Activation of the Met tyrosine kinase by the TPR gene was originally described in vitro through carcinogen-induced rearrangement. The TPR-MET fusion protein contains constitutively elevated Met tyrosine kinase activity and constitutes an ideal model to study the transforming activity of the Met kinase. We found, when introduced into an interleukin 3-dependent cell line, TPR-MET induces factor independence and constitutive tyrosine phosphorylation of several cellular proteins. One major tyrosine phosphorylated protein was identified as the TPR-MET oncoprotein itself. Inhibition of the Met kinase activity by the novel small molecule drug SU11274 [(3Z)-N-(3-chlorophenyl)-3-([3,5-dimethyl-4-[(4-methylpiperazin-1-yl)carbonyl]-1H-pyrrol-2-yl]methylene)-N-methyl-2-oxo-2,3-dihydro-1H-indole-5-sulfonamide] led to time- and dose-dependent reduced cell growth. The inhibitor did not affect other tyrosine kinase oncoproteins, including BCR-ABL, TEL-JAK2, TEL-PDGFbetaR, or TEL-ABL. The Met inhibitor induced G(1) cell cycle arrest and apoptosis with increased Annexin V staining and caspase 3 activity. The autophosphorylation of the Met kinase was reduced on sites that have been shown previously to be important for activation of pathways involved in cell growth and survival, especially the phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase and the Ras pathway. In particular, we found that the inhibitor blocked phosphorylation of AKT, GSK-3beta, and the pro-apoptotic transcription factor FKHR. The characterization of SU11274 as an effective inhibitor of Met tyrosine kinase activity illustrates the potential of targeting for Met therapeutic use in cancers associated with activated forms of this kinase.

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