MET receptor variant R970C favors calpain-dependent generation of a fragment promoting epithelial cell scattering

Oncotarget. 2017 Jan 4. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.14499

The receptor tyrosine kinase MET and its ligand, the hepatocyte growth factor, are essential to embryonic development, whereas deregulation of MET signaling is associated with tumorigenesis leading to various cancers, including lung carcinoma. Mutations in the MET kinase domain lead to constitutive kinase activity and are associated with tumorigenesis. In lung cancer, however, some mutations are found in the juxtamembrane domain, and their functional consequences are unknown. Because the juxtamembrane domain of MET is targeted by several proteolytic cleavages, involved in its degradation during cell death or under steady-state conditions, we evaluated the influence of these mutations on the MET proteolytic cleavages. In stably transfected epithelial cells expressing MET, the juxtamembrane mutations R970C, P991S, and T992I were found not to modify the known caspase or presenilin-dependent regulated intramembrane proteolysis. Yet when overexpressed, the R970C variant caused generation of an as yet undescribed 45-kDa fragment (p45 MET). This fragment was found in the confluent lung cancer cell line NCI-H1437 carrying the R970C mutation and at a lesser extent in cell lines expressing WT MET, suggesting that R970C mutation favors this cleavage. Generation of p45 MET required the activity of the calpain proteases, confirming the involvement of proteolysis. Ectopic expression of reconstituted p45 MET in epithelial cell lines favored cell scattering and invasion indicating active role of this fragment in HGF/SF induced responses. Hence, although the juxtamembrane mutations of MET do not affect its known proteolytic cleavages, the R970C MET variant favors calpain dependent proteolytic cleavage in lung cancer cells.

Montagne R, Baranzelli A, Muharram G, Catherine L, Lesaffre M, Vinchent A, Kherrouche Z, Werkmeister E, Cortot AB, Tulasne D.

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