Background: Expression of scatter factor (SF), also known as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and its receptor, c-met, is often associated with malignant progression of human tumors, including gliomas. Overexpression of SF/HGF in experimental gliomas enhances tumorigenicity and tumor-associated angiogenesis (i.e., growth of new blood vessels). However, the role of endogenous SF/HGF or c-met expression in the malignant progression of gliomas has not been examined directly. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that human glioblastomas can be SF/HGF-c-met dependent and that a reduction in endogenous SF/HGF or c-met expression can lead to inhibition of tumor growth and tumorigenicity. Methods: Expression of the SF/HGF and c-met genes was inhibited by transfecting glioblastoma cells with chimeric transgenes consisting of U1 small nuclear RNA, a hammerhead ribozyme, and antisense sequences. The effects of reduced SF/HGF and c-met expression on 1) SF/HGF- dependent induction of immediate early genes (c-fos and c-jun), indicative of signal transduction; 2) anchorage-independent colony formation (clonogenicity), an in vitro correlate of solid tumor malignancy; and 3) intracranial tumor formation in immunodeficient mice were quantified. Statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Introduction of the transgenes into glioblastoma cells reduced expression of the SF/HGF and c-met genes to as little as 2% of control cell levels. Reduction in c-met expression specifically inhibited SF/HGF-dependent signal transduction (P < .01). Inhibition of SF/HGF or c-met expression in glioblastoma cells possessing an SF/HGF-c-met autocrine loop reduced tumor cell clonogenicity (P = .005 for SF/HGF and P = .009 for c-met) and substantially inhibited tumorigenicity (P < .0001) and tumor growth in vivo (P < .0001). Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first successful inhibition of SF/HGF and c-met expression in a tumor model directly demonstrating a role for endogenous SF/HGF and c-met in human glioblastoma. Our results suggest that targeting the SF/HGF-c-met signaling pathway may be an important approach in controlling tumor progression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research