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MET and RON Receptor Tyrosine Kinases: Novel Therapeutic Targets in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck

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MET (hepatocyte growth factor receptor) and RON (recepteur d'origine Nantaise) are members of the MET proto-oncogene family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Signalling from MET or RON activates multiple signalling pathways and ultimately promotes tumorigenesis and the formation of metastases. Mutations in MET have been detected in abundance in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) metastases relative to the primary tumour, suggesting that this is a critical oncogene regulating dissemination. The biological significance of RON in SCCHN is still relatively unexplored. As survival has plateaued for patients with SCCHN, novel therapies with effects on the primary tumour and metastatic disease are urgently required. Small molecule inhibition of MET has been achieved in the pre-clinical setting and future clinical development is an exciting prospect. In this review, we summarise the biology of MET and RON RTKs and their contribution to an invasive tumour phenotype. We highlight their potential as therapeutic targets and address putative roles for MET and RON in resistance to conventional therapy, with particular reference to SCCHN.

Keywords: MET; RON; hepatocyte growth factor; macrophage stimulating protein; metastasis; small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors; squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck; tyrosine kinase

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: McElwain Laboratories,Institute of Cancer Research, Cotswold Rd., Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5NG, UK.

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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  • Current Enzyme Inhibition aims to publish all the latest and outstanding developments in enzyme inhibition studies with regards to the mechanisms of inhibitory processes of enzymes, recognition of active sites, and the discovery of agonists and antagonists, leading to the design and development of new drugs of significant therapeutic value. Each issue contains a series of timely, in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field, covering a range of enzymes that can be exploited for drug development. Current Enzyme Inhibition is an essential journal for every pharmaceutical and medicinal chemist who wishes to have up-to-date knowledge about each and every development in the study of enzyme inhibition.
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