A high affinity hepatocyte growth factor-binding site in the immunoglobulin-like region of met

Cristina Basilico, Addolorata Arnesano, Maria Galluzzo, Paolo M. Comoglio, Paolo Michieli

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Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its high affinity receptor, the tyrosine kinase Met, play a key role in embryo development and tumor invasion. Both HGF and Met are established targets for cancer therapy. However, the mechanism of their interaction is complex and remains elusive. HGF is secreted as a monomeric precursor (pro-HGF) that binds to but does not activate Met. Mature HGF is a α/β heterodimer containing a high affinity Met-binding site in the α-chain (HGF-α) and a low affinity Met-binding site in the β-chain (HGF-β). The extracellular portion of Met contains a semaphorin (Sema) domain, a cysteine-rich hinge (plexin-semaphorin-integrin), and four immunoglobulinlike domains (immunoglobulin-like regions in plexins and transcription factors (IPT) 1-4). HGF-β binds to Sema through a low affinity contact. The domain of Met responsible for high affinity binding to HGF-α has not been identified yet. Here we show that this long sought after binding site lies in the immunoglobulin-like region of Met and more precisely in IPT 3 and 4. We also show that IPT 3 and 4 are sufficient to transmit the signal for kinase activation to the cytoplasm, although the lack of Sema makes the receptor equally sensitive to mature HGF and pro-HGF. Finally, we provide evidence that soluble Met-derived proteins containing either the low affinity or high affinity HGF-binding site antagonize HGF-induced invasive growth both in vitro and in xenografts. These data suggest that the immunoglobulin-like region of Met cooperates with the Sema domain in binding to HGF and in controlling Met kinase activity. Although the IPT-HGF-α interaction provides binding strength, the Sema-HGF-β contact confers selective sensitivity to the active form of the ligand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21267-21277
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Jul 25 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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