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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 14;108(24):9951-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1016912108. Epub 2011 May 31.

c-Met signaling induces a reprogramming network and supports the glioblastoma stem-like phenotype.

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Hugo W Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


The tyrosine kinase c-Met promotes the formation and malignant progression of multiple cancers. It is well known that c-Met hyperactivation increases tumorigenicity and tumor cell resistance to DNA damaging agents, properties associated with tumor-initiating stem cells. However, a link between c-Met signaling and the formation and/or maintenance of neoplastic stem cells has not been previously identified. Here, we show that c-Met is activated and functional in glioblastoma (GBM) neurospheres enriched for glioblastoma tumor-initiating stem cells and that c-Met expression/function correlates with stem cell marker expression and the neoplastic stem cell phenotype in glioblastoma neurospheres and clinical glioblastoma specimens. c-Met activation was found to induce the expression of reprogramming transcription factors (RFs) known to support embryonic stem cells and induce differentiated cells to form pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and c-Met activation counteracted the effects of forced differentiation in glioblastoma neurospheres. Expression of the reprogramming transcription factor Nanog by glioblastoma cells is shown to mediate the ability of c-Met to induce the stem cell characteristics of neurosphere formation and neurosphere cell self-renewal. These findings show that c-Met enhances the population of glioblastoma stem cells (GBM SCs) via a mechanism requiring Nanog and potentially other c-Met-responsive reprogramming transcription factors.

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