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Oncogene. 2011 Mar 31;30(13):1566-76. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.532. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Ligand-independent activation of c-Met by fibronectin and α(5)β(1)-integrin regulates ovarian cancer invasion and metastasis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Gynecologic Oncology, Center for Integrative Science, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


The role of the fibronectin receptor, α(5)β(1)-integrin, as an adhesion receptor and in angiogenesis is well established. However, its role in cancer cell invasion and metastasis is less clear. We describe a novel mechanism by which fibronectin regulates ovarian cancer cell signaling and promotes metastasis. Fibronectin binding to α(5)β(1)-integrin led to a direct association of α(5)-integrin with the receptor tyrosine kinase, c-Met, activating it in a hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF) independent manner. Subsequently, c-Met associated with Src, and activated Src and focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Inhibition of α(5)β(1)-integrin decreased the phosphorylation of c-Met, FAK and Src, both in vitro and in vivo. Independent activation of c-Met by its native ligand, HGF/SF, or overexpression of a constitutively active FAK in HeyA8 cells could overcome the effect of α(5)β(1)-integrin inhibition on tumor cell invasion, indicating that α(5)β(1)-integrin is upstream of c-Met, Src and FAK. Inhibition of α(5)β(1)-integrin on cancer cells in two xenograft models of ovarian cancer metastasis resulted in a significant decrease of tumor burden, which was independent of the effect of α(5)β(1)-integrin on angiogenesis. These data suggest that fibronectin promotes ovarian cancer invasion and metastasis through an α(5)β(1)-integrin/c-Met/FAK/Src-dependent signaling pathway, transducing signals through c-Met in an HGF/SF-independent manner.

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