Publications

Targeting the MET receptor tyrosine kinase as a strategy for radiosensitization in loco-regionally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Nisa, L., Francica, P., Giger, R., et al.

Radiotherapy (RT) is along with surgery the mainstay of treatment in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Radioresistance represents a major source of treatment failure, underlining the urgent necessity to explore and implement effective radiosensitization strategies. The MET receptor widely participates in acquisition and maintenance of an aggressive phenotype in HNSCC and modulates the DNA damage response following ionizing radiation (IR). Here we assessed MET expression and mutation status in primary and metastatic lesions within a cohort of patients with advanced HNSCC. Moreover, we investigated the radiosensitization potential of the MET inhibitor tepotinib in a panel of cell lines, in vitro and in vivo, as well as in ex vivo patient-derived organotypic tissue cultures (OTCs). MET was highly expressed in 62.4% of primary tumors and in 53.6% of lymph node metastases (LNMs), and in 6 out of 9 evaluated cell lines. MET expression in primaries and LNMs was significantly associated with decreased disease control in univariate survival analyses. Tepotinib abrogated MET phosphorylation and to distinct extents MET downstream signaling. Pretreatment with tepotinib resulted in variable radiosensitization, enhanced DNA damage, cell death, and G2/M-phase arrest. Combination of tepotinib with IR led to significant radiosensitization in one of two tested in vivo models. OTCs revealed differential patterns of response towards tepotinib, irradiation, and combination of both modalities. The molecular basis of tepotinib-mediated radiosensitization was studied by a CyTOF-based single-cell mass cytometry approach, which uncovered that MET inhibition modulated PI3K activity in cells radiosensitized by tepotinib but not in the resistant ones.

Citation

Nisa, L., Francica, P., Giger, R., et al. "Targeting the MET receptor tyrosine kinase as a strategy for radiosensitization in loco-regionally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma" Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (2019): DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-18-1274