J Cancer 2016; 7(10):1205-1214. doi:10.7150/jca.14604 This issue

Research Paper

MET Inhibition in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

Zuoquan Xie1,5, Young H. Lee2, Marta Boeke1, Lucia B. Jilaveanu3, Zongzhi Liu4, Donald P. Bottaro2, Harriet M. Kluger3, Brian Shuch1✉

1. Department of Urology, Yale School of Medicine
2. Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute
3. Department of Medicine, Section of Medical Oncology, Yale School of Medicine
4. Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA
5. Division of Antitumor Pharmacology, State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

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Xie Z, Lee YH, Boeke M, Jilaveanu LB, Liu Z, Bottaro DP, Kluger HM, Shuch B. MET Inhibition in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma. J Cancer 2016; 7(10):1205-1214. doi:10.7150/jca.14604. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v07p1205.htm

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Background: Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most lethal form of kidney cancer. Small molecule VEGFR inhibitors are widely used but are not curative and various resistance mechanisms such as activation of the MET pathway have been described. Dual MET/VEGFR2 inhibitors have recently shown clinical benefit but limited preclinical data evaluates their effects in ccRCC.

Methods: An interrogation of the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset was performed to evaluate oncogenic alterations in the MET/VEGFR2 pathway. We evaluated the in vitro effects of Cabozantinib, a dual MET/VEGFR2 inhibitor, using a panel of ccRCC cell lines. Drug effects of cell viability and proliferation, migration, cell scatter, anchorage independent growth, and downstream MET/VEGFR2 signaling pathways were assessed.

Results: Twelve percent of TCGA cases had possible MET/HGF oncogenic alterations with co-occurrence noted (p<0.001). MET/HGF altered cases had worse overall survival (p=0.044). Cabozantinib was a potent inhibitor of MET and VEGFR2 in vitro in our cell line panel. PI3K, MAPK and mTOR pathways were also suppressed by cabozantinib, however the effects on cell viability in vitro were modest. At nanomolar concentrations of cabozantinib, HGF-stimulated migration, invasion, cellular scattering and soft agar colony formation were inhibited.

Conclusions: We provide further preclinical rationale for dual MET/VEGFR2 inhibition in ccRCC. While the MET pathway is implicated in VEGFR resistance, dual inhibitors may have direct anti-tumor effects in a patient subset with evidence of MET pathway involvement. Cabozantinib is a potent dual MET/VEGFR2 inhibitor, significantly inhibits cell migration and invasion in vitro and likely has anti-angiogenic effects similar to other VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Future work involving in vivo models will be useful to better define mechanisms of potential anti-tumor activity.

Keywords: HGF, MET, clear cell Carcinoma, VEGFR2, XL184, cabozantinib.