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J Biol Chem. 1994 Apr 29;269(17):12846-51.

Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor expression is inducible and is part of the delayed-early response to HGF.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences and Oncology, University of Torino Medical School, Italy.


The c-MET proto-oncogene encodes the tyrosine kinase receptor for hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), also known as scatter factor, a potent mitogen and motogen for epithelial cells. The level of the HGF receptor expressed by epithelial cells varies in different growth conditions, being lower in growth arrested confluent monolayers and higher in growing sparse cells. The amount of HGF receptor mRNA increases from 3- to 5-fold after stimulation of confluent monolayers by serum and up to 10-fold after stimulation of protein kinase C by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). An increased level of the receptor mRNA was also observed after cell stimulation with nanomolar concentration of HGF itself. The effect was transient, dose, and time-dependent. Transcription of a reporter gene under control of the cloned 297 base pair c-MET promoter was also stimulated by serum, TPA, or HGF. The accumulation of specific mRNA is followed by appearance of the HGF receptor precursor protein, which is further processed to the receptor mature form. After HGF stimulation, HGF receptor expression follows c-FOS and c-JUN induction with a peak approximately 4 h. Pretreatment with the protein synthesis inhibitor puromycin strongly reduced the response to HGF, while cycloheximide alone increased the level of the receptor mRNA. These data show that c-MET behaves as a delayed early-response gene and suggest that the HGF response is autoamplified by inducing the specific receptor.

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