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Oncogene. 2003 Nov 20;22(52):8498-508.

Targeted expression of HGF/SF in mouse mammary epithelium leads to metastatic adenosquamous carcinomas through the activation of multiple signal transduction pathways.

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Laboratory of Genetics and Physiology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0822, USA.


Overexpression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), also called scatter factor (SF), and its receptor c-Met are associated with poor prognosis for cancer patients. In particular, breast cancer cells can produce HGF that acts in a paracrine as well as in an autocrine manner. Therefore, HGF and c-Met are putative targets for cancer therapy. To explore HGF/c-Met signaling in breast cancer, we have generated transgenic mice expressing HGF specifically in mammary epithelium under the transcriptional control of the whey acidic protein (WAP) gene promoter. WAP-HGF transgenic females developed hyperplastic ductal trees and multifocal invasive tumors after several pregnancies, some of which progressed to lung metastases. Tumors produced HGF and displayed phosphorylated c-Met, which correlated with increased Akt as well as c-myc activation. A high growth rate, as demonstrated by Ki67 nuclear antigen staining, and a lack of progesterone receptor were characteristic of the tumors. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed areas of osteopontin (Opn) expression in WAP-HGF tumors and lung metastases in agreement with a previously reported role for Opn in invasive growth. We suggest that these mice may serve as a new breast cancer model for the evaluation of the effects of unscheduled HGF expression in breast cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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