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J Cell Biochem. 2005 Jul 1;95(4):805-16.

Activation of the c-Met receptor complex in fibroblasts drives invasive cell behavior by signaling through transcription factor STAT3.

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Institute of Biochemistry I, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Nonnenplan 2, 07743 Jena, Germany.


c-Met is the receptor for hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). It mediates multiple cellular responses in development and adult life, and c-Met hyperactivity is associated with malignant transformation of cells and the acquisition of metastatic properties. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been shown to contribute to c-Met-mediated cell motility and is, thus, potentially involved in the control of invasive cell behavior. We have functionally reconstituted c-Met-dependent signal transduction in fibroblasts with the aim of studying Met-driven cell invasiveness and the role of STAT3 in this phenomenon. Activation of the system was achieved by means of a hybrid receptor comprising the extracellular domain of the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor TrkA, the cytoplasmic part of c-Met and a C-terminally fused blue fluorescent protein (BFP). In addition, a GFP-tagged derivative of adaptor protein Gab1 was expressed. NGF-stimulation of mouse fibroblasts expressing tagged versions of both Trk-Met and Gab1 with NGF resulted in anchorage-independent growth and enhanced invasiveness. By freeze-fracture cytochemistry and electron microscopy, we were able to visualize the ligand-induced formation of multivalent receptor complex assemblies within the cell membrane. NGF-stimulation of the heterologous receptor system evoked activation of STAT3 as evidenced by tyrosine phosphorylation and the formation of STAT3 clusters at the cell membrane. siRNA-mediated ablation of STAT3 expression resulted in a drastic reduction of c-Met-driven invasiveness, indicating an important role of STAT3 in the control of this particularly relevant property of transformed cells.

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