The receptor tyrosine kinase Met is involved in the progression and metastasis of numerous human cancers. Although overexpression and autocrine activation of the Met signaling pathway are commonly found in human cancers, mutational activation of Met has been observed in small cell and non-small cell lung cancers, lung adenocarcinomas, renal carcinomas, and mesotheliomas.
To investigate the influence of mutationally activated Met in tumorigenesis, we utilized a novel mouse model. Previously, we observed that various Met mutations developed unique mutation-specific tumor spectra on a C57BL/6 background. Here, we assessed the effect of genetic background on the tumorigenic potential of mutationally activated Met. For this purpose, we created congenic knock-in lines of the Met mutations D1226N, M1248T, and Y1228C on the FVB/N background. Consistent with the mutation-specific tumor spectra, several of the mutations were associated with the same tumor types as observed on C57BL/6 background. However, on the FVB/N background most developed a high incidence of mammary carcinomas with diverse histopathologies.
This study demonstrates that on two distinct mouse backgrounds, Met is able to initiate tumorigenesis in multiple cell types, including epithelial, hematopoietic, and endothelial. Furthermore, these observations emphasize that even a modest increase in Met activation can initiate tumorigenesis with both the Met mutational spectra and host background having profound influence on the type of tumor generated. Greater insight into the interaction of genetic modifiers and Met signaling will significantly enhance our ability to tailor combination therapies for Met-driven cancers.