Molecular signatures for combined targeted treatments in diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma

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Background—There are currently no effective therapies for diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (DMPM) patients with disease recurrence. In this study, we investigated the biology of DMPM by analyzing the EGFR family, Axl, and MET, in order to assess the presence of cross-talk between these receptors, suggesting the effectiveness of combined targeted treatments in DMPM. Method—We analyzed a series of 22 naïve epithelioid DMPM samples from a single institute, two of which showed higher-grade malignancy (“progressed”). EGFR, HER2, HER3, Axl, and MET activation and expression were investigated by biochemical analysis, real-time PCR immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, next-generation sequencing, miRNA, and mRNA in situ hybridization. Results—In most DMPMs, a strong EGFR activation was associated with HER2, HER3, Axl, and MET co-activation, mediated mainly by receptor heterodimerization and autocrine-paracrine loops induced by the expression of their cognate ligands. Axl expression was downregulated by miRNA34a. Mutations in MET Sema domain were exclusively found in two “progressed” DMPMs, and the combined Axl and MET inhibition reduced cellular motility in a DMPM cell line obtained from a “progressed” DMPM. Conclusion—The results indicate that the coordinated activity of multiple cross-talks between RTKs is directly involved in the biology of DMPM, suggesting the combined inhibition of PIK3 and mTOR as an effective strategy that may be easily implemented in clinical practice, and indicating that the combined inhibition of EGFR/HER2 and HER3 and of Axl and MET deserves further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5817
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2019


  • Axl
  • Diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma
  • EGFR family
  • MET

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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