An interaction between hepatocyte growth factor and its receptor (c-MET) prolongs the survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemic cells through STAT3 phosphorylation: A potential role of mesenchymal cells in the disease

Paolo Giannoni, Silvia Scaglione, Rodolfo Quarto, Roberto Narcisi, Manuela Parodi, Enrico Balleari, Federica Barbieri, Alessandra Pattarozzi, Tullio Florio, Silvano Ferrini, Giorgio Corte, Daniela de Totero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells are characterized by an apparent longevity in vivo which is lost when they are cultured in vitro. Cellular interactions and factors provided by the microenvironment appear essential to cell survival and may protect leukemic cells from the cytotoxicity of conventional therapies. Understanding the cross-talk between leukemic cells and stroma is of interest for identifying signals supporting disease progression and for developing novel therapeutic strategies. Design and Methods: Different cell types, sharing a common mesenchymal origin and representative of various bone marrow components, were used to challenge the viability of leukemic cells in co-cultures and in contact-free culture systems. Using a bioinformatic approach we searched for genes shared by lineages prolonging leukemic cell survival and further analyzed their biological role in signal transduction experiments. Results: Human bone marrow stromal cells, fibroblasts, trabecular bone-derived cells and an osteoblastlike cell line strongly enhanced survival of leukemic cells, while endothelial cells and chondrocytes did not. Gene expression profile analysis indicated two soluble factors, hepatocyte growth factor and CXCL12, as potentially involved. We demonstrated that hepatocyte growth factor and CXCL12 are produced only by mesenchymal lineages that sustain the survival of leukemic cells. Indeed chronic lymphocytic leukemic cells express a functional hepatocyte growth factor receptor (c-MET) and hepatocyte growth factor enhanced the viability of these cells through STAT3 phosphorylation, which was blocked by a c-MET tyrosine kinase inhibitor. The role of hepatocyte growth factor was confirmed by its short interfering RNAmediated knock-down in mesenchymal cells. Conclusions: The finding that hepatocyte growth factor prolongs the survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemic cells is novel and we suggest that the interaction between hepatocyte growth factorproducing mesenchymal and neoplastic cells contributes to maintenance of the leukemic clone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1023
Number of pages9
JournalHaematologica
Volume96
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

Keywords

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Growth factors
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An interaction between hepatocyte growth factor and its receptor (c-MET) prolongs the survival of chronic lymphocytic leukemic cells through STAT3 phosphorylation: A potential role of mesenchymal cells in the disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this