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Cancer Res. 2013 May 15;73(10):3087-96. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3256. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Cytotoxic activity of tivantinib (ARQ 197) is not due solely to c-MET inhibition.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA, USA.


The receptor tyrosine kinase c-MET is the high-affinity receptor for the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). The HGF/c-MET axis is often dysregulated in tumors. c-MET activation can be caused by MET gene amplification, activating mutations, and auto- or paracrine mechanisms. Thus, c-MET inhibitors are under development as anticancer drugs. Tivantinib (ARQ 197) was reported as a small-molecule c-MET inhibitor and early clinical studies suggest antitumor activity. To assess whether the antitumor activity of tivantinib was due to inhibition of c-MET, we compared the activity of tivantinib with other c-MET inhibitors in both c-MET-addicted and nonaddicted cancer cells. As expected, other c-MET inhibitors, crizotinib and PHA-665752, suppressed the growth of c-MET-addicted cancers, but not the growth of cancers that are not addicted to c-MET. In contrast, tivantinib inhibited cell viability with similar potency in both c-MET-addicted and nonaddicted cells. These results suggest that tivantinib exhibits its antitumor activity in a manner independent of c-MET status. Tivantinib treatment induced a G(2)-M cell-cycle arrest in EBC1 cells similarly to vincristine treatment, whereas PHA-665752 or crizotinib treatment markedly induced G(0)-G(1) cell-cycle arrest. To identify the additional molecular target of tivantinib, we conducted COMPARE analysis, an in silico screening of a database of drug sensitivities across 39 cancer cell lines (JFCR39), and identified microtubule as a target of tivantinib. Tivantinib-treated cells showed typical microtubule disruption similar to vincristine and inhibited microtubule assembly in vitro. These results suggest that tivantinib inhibits microtubule polymerization in addition to inhibiting c-MET.

©2013 AACR.

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