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Oncogene. 1999 Jun 3;18(22):3399-406.

Differential signaling by alternative HGF isoforms through c-Met: activation of both MAP kinase and PI 3-kinase pathways is insufficient for mitogenesis.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Division of Basic Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4255, USA.


HGF/NK2, a naturally occurring truncated HGF isoform, antagonizes the mitogenic and morphogenic activities of full length HGF, but stimulates cell scatter, or the motogenic response to HGF. We studied postreceptor signaling by these HGF isoforms in the human breast epithelial cell line 184B5, and in murine myeloid progenitor 32D cells transfected with c-Met, the human HGF receptor (32D/c-Met). HGF stimulated DNA synthesis in 184B5 and 32D/c-Met cells, while HGF/NK2 was mitogenically inactive, despite the ability of HGF/NK2 to stimulate c-Met autophosphorylation, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) in both cell systems. In 184B5 cells, HGF stimulated sustained MAPK activation, while activation by HGF/NK2 declined rapidly. In contrast, both isoforms activated MAPK with rapidly attenuated kinetics in 32D/c-Met cells. In both cell systems the increased motility observed in response to either HGF or HGF/NK2 treatment was more potently blocked by the PI3 kinase inhibitor wortmannin, than by PD98059, an inhibitor of MAPK kinase (MEK1). These data suggest that (1) alternative HGF isoforms signaling through c-Met generate both common and distinct biological responses, (2) the extent and duration of ligand-stimulated c-Met and MAPK activities are dependent on the cellular context and are not predictive of mitogenic signaling, and (3) in at least some HGF target cells, the activation of both MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways is insufficient for mitogenesis elicited through c-Met.

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