Rhabdomyosarcomas (RMSs) are frequently characterized by bone marrow involvement. Recently, we reported that human RMS cells express the CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4) and postulated a role for the CXCR4 stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1 axis in the metastasis of RMS cells to bone marrow. Because RMS cells also express the tyrosine kinase receptor c-MET, the specific ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) that is secreted in bone marrow and lymph node stroma, we hypothesized that the c-MET-HGF axis modulates the metastatic behavior of RMS cells as well. Supporting this concept is our observation that conditioned media harvested from expanded ex vivo human bone marrow fibroblasts chemoattracted RMS cells in an HGF- and SDF-1-dependent manner. Six human alveolar and three embryonal RMS cell lines were examined. We found that although HGF, similar to SDF-1, did not affect the proliferation of RMS cells, it induced in several of them: (a) locomotion; (b) stress fiber formation; (c) chemotaxis; (d) adhesion to human umbilical vein endothelial cells; (e) trans-Matrigel invasion and matrix metalloproteinase secretion; and (f) phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase p42/44 and AKT. Moreover HGF, but not SDF-1, increased the survival of RMS cells exposed to radio- and chemotherapy. We also found that the more aggressive alveolar RMS cells express higher levels of c-MET than embryonal RMS cell lines and "home/seed" better into bone marrow after i.v. injection into immunocompromised mice. Because we could not find any activating mutations in the kinase region of c-MET or any evidence for HGF autocrine stimulation, we suggest that the increased response of RMS cell lines depends on overexpression of functional c-MET. We conclude that HGF regulates the metastatic behavior of c-MET-positive RMS cells, directing them to the bone marrow and lymph nodes. Signaling from the c-MET receptor may also contribute to the resistance of RMS cells to conventional treatment modalities.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Nov 15 2003|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research