From OncoLog, July 2013, Vol. 58,
MET Protein May Serve as a Biomarker for a Treatment-Resistant Colorectal Cancer Subtype
The MET protein may be a surrogate indicator of the presence of the
chemotherapy-resistant epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) subtype
of colorectal cancer, a recent study showed.
EMT occurs when epithelial cells change shape and lose cell-to-cell
adhesion molecules, thereby allowing the cells to adopt certain
characteristics of mesenchymal cells, such as invasiveness and
resistance to cell death.
|“We want to condense sophisticated gene signatures down to single markers and simple tests that can be used to guide therapy.”
– Dr. Scott Kopetz
Currently, the EMT subtype is identified by its genetic
“signature”—multiple gene mutations. However, a single biomarker for
this subtype has not been previously identified.
“While we know there are many types of colorectal cancer, we’re not as
advanced as we’d like to be in our understanding of them,” said Scott
Kopetz, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of
Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD
Anderson Cancer Center. “One of the larger goals of our research is to
find simple biomarkers that can be used by doctors in the community to
identify subtypes. We want to condense sophisticated gene signatures
down to single markers and simple tests that can be used to guide
To determine whether MET protein could serve as a biomarker for EMT,
Dr. Kopetz and his colleagues compared MET protein expression with the
expression of proteins and messenger RNA for genes known to be altered
in EMT. The researchers used data from The Cancer Genome Atlas to
conduct an exploratory analysis of 139 untreated primary colorectal
Dr. Kopetz and his colleagues found that the expression of MET protein
strongly correlated with the expression of the EMT-associated
transcription factor Slug and of ERCC1, a marker for oxaliplatin
resistance. High levels of MET protein expression also correlated with
high expression levels of EMT-related genes. Higher levels of MET
protein were associated with decreased overall survival durations.
Colon tumors had higher levels of MET protein than rectal tumors did.
The results of this study may allow physicians to use MET protein
expression as a biomarker for this often chemoresistant subtype of
colorectal cancer. Dr. Kopetz and his colleagues presented their
findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting
information, talk to your physician, visit www.mdanderson.org, or call askMDAnderson at 877-632-6789.
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