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Cancers, Volume 9, Issue 4 (April 2017)

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Cover Story Tumors are not merely a mass of tumor cells, but resemble aberrant organs, composed of multiple [...] Read more.
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Research

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Open AccessArticle Timp1 Promotes Cell Survival by Activating the PDK1 Signaling Pathway in Melanoma
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 37; doi:10.3390/cancers9040037
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 14 April 2017 / Published: 21 April 2017
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Abstract
High TIMP1 expression is associated with poor prognosis in melanoma, where it can bind to CD63 and β1 integrin, inducing PI3-kinase pathway and cell survival. Phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3), generated under phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) activation, enables the recruitment and activation of protein kinase B (PKB/AKT)
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High TIMP1 expression is associated with poor prognosis in melanoma, where it can bind to CD63 and β1 integrin, inducing PI3-kinase pathway and cell survival. Phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate (PIP3), generated under phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) activation, enables the recruitment and activation of protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) and phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1) at the membrane, resulting in the phosphorylation of a host of other proteins. Using a melanoma progression model, we evaluated the impact of Timp1 and AKT silencing, as well as PI3K, PDK1, and protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors on aggressiveness characteristics. Timp1 downregulation resulted in decreased anoikis resistance, clonogenicity, dacarbazine resistance, and in vivo tumor growth and lung colonization. In metastatic cells, pAKTThr308 is highly expressed, contributing to anoikis resistance. We showed that PDK1Ser241 and PKCβIISer660 are activated by Timp1 in different stages of melanoma progression, contributing to colony formation and anoikis resistance. Moreover, simultaneous inhibition of Timp1 and AKT in metastatic cells resulted in more effective anoikis inhibition. Our findings demonstrate that Timp1 promotes cell survival with the participation of PDK1 and PKC in melanoma. In addition, Timp1 and AKT act synergistically to confer anoikis resistance in advanced tumor stages. This study brings new insights about the mechanisms by which Timp1 promotes cell survival in melanoma, and points to novel perspectives for therapeutic approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue PI3K/PDK1/Akt Pathways in Cancer)
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Review

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Open AccessReview PI3K Signaling in Tissue Hyper-Proliferation: From Overgrowth Syndromes to Kidney Cysts
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 30; doi:10.3390/cancers9040030
Received: 22 February 2017 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 27 March 2017 / Published: 29 March 2017
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Abstract
The members of the PhosphoInositide-3 Kinase (PI3K) protein family are well-known regulators of proliferative signals. By the generation of lipid second messengers, they mediate the activation of AKT/PKB (AKT) and mammalian Target Of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Although mutations in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway are
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The members of the PhosphoInositide-3 Kinase (PI3K) protein family are well-known regulators of proliferative signals. By the generation of lipid second messengers, they mediate the activation of AKT/PKB (AKT) and mammalian Target Of Rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Although mutations in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway are highly characterized in cancer, recent evidence indicates that alterations in the proliferative signals are major drivers of other diseases such as overgrowth disorders and polycystic kidney disease. In this review, we briefly summarize the role of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in cell proliferation by comparing the effect of alterations in PI3K enzymes in different tissues. In particular, we discuss the most recent findings on how the same pathway may lead to different biological effects, due to the convergence and cooperation of different signaling cascades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue PI3K/PDK1/Akt Pathways in Cancer)
Open AccessFeature PaperReview NG2 Proteoglycan Enhances Brain Tumor Progression by Promoting Beta-1 Integrin Activation in both Cis and Trans Orientations
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 31; doi:10.3390/cancers9040031
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 29 March 2017 / Published: 31 March 2017
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Abstract
By physically interacting with beta-1 integrins, the NG2 proteoglycan enhances activation of the integrin heterodimers. In glioma cells, co-localization of NG2 and 31 integrin in individual cells (cis interaction) can be demonstrated by immunolabeling, and the NG2-integrin interaction can be confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation.
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By physically interacting with beta-1 integrins, the NG2 proteoglycan enhances activation of the integrin heterodimers. In glioma cells, co-localization of NG2 and 31 integrin in individual cells (cis interaction) can be demonstrated by immunolabeling, and the NG2-integrin interaction can be confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation. NG2-dependent integrin activation is detected via use of conformationally sensitive monoclonal antibodies that reveal the activated state of the beta-1 subunit in NG2-positive versus NG2-negative cells. NG2-dependent activation of beta-1 integrins triggers downstream activation of FAK and PI3K/Akt signaling, resulting in increased glioma cell proliferation, motility, and survival. Similar NG2-dependent cis activation of beta-1 integrins occurs in microvascular pericytes, leading to enhanced proliferation and motility of these vascular cells. Surprisingly, pericyte NG2 is also able to promote beta-1 integrin activation in closely apposed endothelial cells (trans interaction). Enhanced beta-1 signaling in endothelial cells promotes endothelial maturation by inducing the formation of endothelial junctions, resulting in increased barrier function of the endothelium and increased basal lamina assembly. NG2-dependent beta-1 integrin signaling is therefore important for tumor progression by virtue of its affects not only on the tumor cells themselves, but also on the maturation and function of tumor blood vessels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrins in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview The Androgen Receptor and VEGF: Mechanisms of Androgen-Regulated Angiogenesis in Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 32; doi:10.3390/cancers9040032
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 25 March 2017 / Accepted: 4 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Prostate cancer progression is controlled by the androgen receptor and new blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis, which promotes metastatic prostate cancer growth. Angiogenesis is induced by elevated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is regulated by many factors in the tumor
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Prostate cancer progression is controlled by the androgen receptor and new blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis, which promotes metastatic prostate cancer growth. Angiogenesis is induced by elevated expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF is regulated by many factors in the tumor microenvironment including lowered oxygen levels and elevated androgens. Here we review evidence delineating hormone mediated mechanisms of VEGF regulation, including novel interactions between the androgen receptor (AR), epigenetic and zinc-finger transcription factors, AR variants and the hypoxia factor, HIF-1. The relevance of describing the impact of both hormones and hypoxia on VEGF expression and angiogenesis is revealed in recent reports of clinical therapies targeting both VEGF and AR signaling pathways. A better understanding of the complexities of VEGF expression could lead to improved targeting and increased survival time for a subset of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AR Signaling in Human Malignancies: Prostate Cancer and Beyond)
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Open AccessReview ErbB Family Signalling: A Paradigm for Oncogene Addiction and Personalized Oncology
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 33; doi:10.3390/cancers9040033
Received: 23 February 2017 / Revised: 5 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 12 April 2017
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Abstract
ErbB family members represent important biomarkers and drug targets for modern precision therapy. They have gained considerable importance as paradigms for oncoprotein addiction and personalized medicine. This review summarizes the current understanding of ErbB proteins in cell signalling and cancer and describes the
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ErbB family members represent important biomarkers and drug targets for modern precision therapy. They have gained considerable importance as paradigms for oncoprotein addiction and personalized medicine. This review summarizes the current understanding of ErbB proteins in cell signalling and cancer and describes the molecular rationale of prominent cases of ErbB oncoprotein addiction in different cancer types. In addition, we have highlighted experimental technologies for the development of innovative cancer cell models that accurately predicted clinical ErbB drug efficacies. In the future, such cancer models might facilitate the identification and validation of physiologically relevant novel forms of oncoprotein and non-oncoprotein addiction or synthetic lethality. The identification of genotype-drug response relationships will further advance personalized oncology and improve drug efficacy in the clinic. Finally, we review the most important drugs targeting ErbB family members that are under investigation in clinical trials or that made their way already into clinical routine. Taken together, the functional characterization of ErbB oncoproteins have significantly increased our knowledge on predictive biomarkers, oncoprotein addiction and patient stratification and treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EGFR Family Signaling in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview AR Signaling and the PI3K Pathway in Prostate Cancer
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 34; doi:10.3390/cancers9040034
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 11 April 2017 / Published: 15 April 2017
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Abstract
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in men worldwide. Aberrant signaling in the androgen pathway is critical in the development and progression of prostate cancer. Despite ongoing reliance on androgen receptor (AR) signaling in castrate resistant disease, in addition to
[...] Read more.
Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death in men worldwide. Aberrant signaling in the androgen pathway is critical in the development and progression of prostate cancer. Despite ongoing reliance on androgen receptor (AR) signaling in castrate resistant disease, in addition to the development of potent androgen targeting drugs, patients invariably develop treatment resistance. Interactions between the AR and PI3K pathways may be a mechanism of treatment resistance and inhibitors of this pathway have been developed with variable success. Herein we outline the role of the PI3K pathway in prostate cancer and, in particular, its association with androgen receptor signaling in the pathogenesis and evolution of prostate cancer, as well as a review of the clinical utility of PI3K targeting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AR Signaling in Human Malignancies: Prostate Cancer and Beyond)
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Open AccessReview Hepatocyte Growth Factor, a Key Tumor-Promoting Factor in the Tumor Microenvironment
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 35; doi:10.3390/cancers9040035
Received: 28 February 2017 / Revised: 5 April 2017 / Accepted: 13 April 2017 / Published: 17 April 2017
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Abstract
The tumor microenvironment plays a key role in tumor development and progression. Stromal cells secrete growth factors, cytokines and extracellular matrix proteins which promote growth, survival and metastatic spread of cancer cells. Fibroblasts are the predominant constituent of the tumor stroma and Hepatocyte
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The tumor microenvironment plays a key role in tumor development and progression. Stromal cells secrete growth factors, cytokines and extracellular matrix proteins which promote growth, survival and metastatic spread of cancer cells. Fibroblasts are the predominant constituent of the tumor stroma and Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF), the specific ligand for the tyrosine kinase receptor c-MET, is a major component of their secretome. Indeed, cancer-associated fibroblasts have been shown to promote growth, survival and migration of cancer cells in an HGF-dependent manner. Fibroblasts also confer resistance to anti-cancer therapy through HGF-induced epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) and activation of pro-survival signaling pathways such as ERK and AKT in tumor cells. Constitutive HGF/MET signaling in cancer cells is associated with increased tumor aggressiveness and predicts poor outcome in cancer patients. Due to its role in tumor progression and therapeutic resistance, both HGF and MET have emerged as valid therapeutic targets. Several inhibitors of MET and HGF are currently being tested in clinical trials. Preclinical data provide a strong indication that inhibitors of HGF/MET signaling overcome both primary and acquired resistance to EGFR, HER2, and BRAF targeting agents. These findings support the notion that co-targeting of cancer cells and stromal cells is required to prevent therapeutic resistance and to increase the overall survival rate of cancer patients. HGF dependence has emerged as a hallmark of therapeutic resistance, suggesting that inhibitors of biological activity of HGF should be included into therapeutic regimens of cancer patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatocyte Growth Factor Pathway in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview Cancer Chemotherapy Specific to Acidic Nests
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 36; doi:10.3390/cancers9040036
Received: 19 March 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 20 April 2017
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Abstract
The realization of cancer therapeutics specific to cancer cells with less of an effect on normal tissues is our goal. Many trials have been carried out for this purpose, but this goal is still far from being realized. It was found more than
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The realization of cancer therapeutics specific to cancer cells with less of an effect on normal tissues is our goal. Many trials have been carried out for this purpose, but this goal is still far from being realized. It was found more than 80 years ago that solid cancer nests are acidified, but in vitro studies under acidic conditions have not been extensively studied. Recently, in vitro experiments under acidic conditions were started and anti-cancer drugs specific to acidic areas have been identified. Many genes have been reported to be expressed at a high level under acidic conditions, and such genes may be potent targets for anti-cancer drugs specific to acidic nests. In this review article, recent in vitro, in vivo, and clinical achievements in anti-cancer drugs with marked efficacy under acidic conditions are summarized, and the clinical use of anti-cancer drugs specific to acidic nests is discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview EGFR Family Members’ Regulation of Autophagy Is at a Crossroads of Cell Survival and Death in Cancer
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 27; doi:10.3390/cancers9040027
Received: 4 March 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 21 March 2017 / Published: 24 March 2017
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Abstract
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathways are altered in many cancers contributing to increased cell survival. These alterations are caused mainly through increased expression or mutation of EGFR family members EGFR, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4. These receptors have been successfully targeted
[...] Read more.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathways are altered in many cancers contributing to increased cell survival. These alterations are caused mainly through increased expression or mutation of EGFR family members EGFR, ErbB2, ErbB3, and ErbB4. These receptors have been successfully targeted for cancer therapy. Specifically, a monoclonal antibody against ErbB2, trastuzumab, and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor against EGFR, gefitinib, have improved the survival of breast and lung cancer patients. Unfortunately, cancer patients frequently become resistant to these inhibitors. This has led to investigating how EGFR can contribute to cell survival and how cancer cells can overcome inhibition of its signaling. Indeed, it is coming into focus that EGFR signaling goes beyond a single signal triggering cell proliferation and survival and is a sensor that regulates the cell’s response to microenvironmental stresses such as hypoxia. It acts as a switch that modulates the ability of cancer cells to survive. Autophagy is a process of self-digestion that is inhibited by EGFR allowing cancer cells to survive under stresses that would normally cause death and become resistant to chemotherapy. Inhibiting EGFR signaling allows autophagy to contribute to cell death. This gives new opportunities to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat cancers that rely on EGFR signaling networks and autophagy. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of EGFR family member regulation of autophagy in cancer cells and how new therapeutic strategies could be developed to overcome drug resistance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EGFR Family Signaling in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview Long Non-Coding RNAs: Key Regulators of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Tumour Drug Resistance and Cancer Stem Cells
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 38; doi:10.3390/cancers9040038
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 14 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 21 April 2017
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Abstract
Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), the adoption by epithelial cells of a mesenchymal-like phenotype, is a process co-opted by carcinoma cells in order to initiate invasion and metastasis. In addition, it is becoming clear that is instrumental to both the development of drug resistance
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Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT), the adoption by epithelial cells of a mesenchymal-like phenotype, is a process co-opted by carcinoma cells in order to initiate invasion and metastasis. In addition, it is becoming clear that is instrumental to both the development of drug resistance by tumour cells and in the generation and maintenance of cancer stem cells. EMT is thus a pivotal process during tumour progression and poses a major barrier to the successful treatment of cancer. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNA) often utilize epigenetic programs to regulate both gene expression and chromatin structure. One type of ncRNA, called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), has become increasingly recognized as being both highly dysregulated in cancer and to play a variety of different roles in tumourigenesis. Indeed, over the last few years, lncRNAs have rapidly emerged as key regulators of EMT in cancer. In this review, we discuss the lncRNAs that have been associated with the EMT process in cancer and the variety of molecular mechanisms and signalling pathways through which they regulate EMT, and finally discuss how these EMT-regulating lncRNAs impact on both anti-cancer drug resistance and the cancer stem cell phenotype. Full article
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Open AccessReview DNA Repair Pathway Alterations in Bladder Cancer
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 28; doi:10.3390/cancers9040028
Received: 7 March 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 23 March 2017 / Published: 27 March 2017
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Abstract
Most bladder tumors have complex genomes characterized by a high mutation burden as well as frequent copy number alterations and chromosomal rearrangements. Alterations in DNA repair pathways—including the double-strand break (DSB) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathways—are present in bladder tumors and may
[...] Read more.
Most bladder tumors have complex genomes characterized by a high mutation burden as well as frequent copy number alterations and chromosomal rearrangements. Alterations in DNA repair pathways—including the double-strand break (DSB) and nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathways—are present in bladder tumors and may contribute to genomic instability and drive the tumor phenotype. DNA damaging such as cisplatin, mitomycin C, and radiation are commonly used in the treatment of muscle-invasive or metastatic bladder cancer, and several recent studies have linked specific DNA repair pathway defects with sensitivity to DNA damaging-based therapy. In addition, tumor DNA repair defects have important implications for use of immunotherapy and other targeted agents in bladder cancer. Therefore, efforts to further understand the landscape of DNA repair alterations in bladder cancer will be critical in advancing treatment for bladder cancer. This review summarizes the current understanding of the role of DNA repair pathway alterations in bladder tumor biology and response to therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Repair Pathways in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview The Role of PI3K Isoforms in Regulating Bone Marrow Microenvironment Signaling Focusing on Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Multiple Myeloma
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 29; doi:10.3390/cancers9040029
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 24 March 2017 / Published: 28 March 2017
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Abstract
Despite the development of novel treatments in the past 15 years, many blood cancers still remain ultimately fatal and difficult to treat, particularly acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and multiple myeloma (MM). While significant progress has been made characterising small-scale genetic mutations and larger-scale
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Despite the development of novel treatments in the past 15 years, many blood cancers still remain ultimately fatal and difficult to treat, particularly acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and multiple myeloma (MM). While significant progress has been made characterising small-scale genetic mutations and larger-scale chromosomal translocations that contribute to the development of various blood cancers, less is understood about the complex microenvironment of the bone marrow (BM), which is known to be a key player in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), AML and MM. This niche acts as a sanctuary for the cancerous cells, protecting them from chemotherapeutics and encouraging clonal cell survival. It does this by upregulating a plethora of signalling cascades within the malignant cell, with the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway taking a critical role. This review will focus on how the PI3K pathway influences disease progression and the individualised role of the PI3K subunits. We will also summarise the current clinical trials for PI3K inhibitors and how these trials impact the treatment of blood cancers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue PI3K/PDK1/Akt Pathways in Cancer)
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Open AccessReview Hepatocyte Growth Factor/c-Met Signaling in Head and Neck Cancer and Implications for Treatment
Cancers 2017, 9(4), 39; doi:10.3390/cancers9040039
Received: 6 March 2017 / Revised: 14 April 2017 / Accepted: 20 April 2017 / Published: 24 April 2017
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Abstract
Aberrant signaling of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/c-Met pathway has been identified as a promoter of tumorigenesis in several tumor types including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Despite a relatively low c-Met mutation frequency, overexpression of HGF and its receptor c-Met
[...] Read more.
Aberrant signaling of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/c-Met pathway has been identified as a promoter of tumorigenesis in several tumor types including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Despite a relatively low c-Met mutation frequency, overexpression of HGF and its receptor c-Met has been observed in more than 80% of HNSCC tumors, with preclinical and clinical studies linking overexpression with cellular proliferation, invasion, migration, and poor prognosis. c-Met is activated by HGF through a paracrine mechanism to promote cellular morphogenesis enabling cells to acquire mesenchymal phenotypes in part through the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, contributing to metastasis. The HGF/c-Met pathway may also act as a resistance mechanism against epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition in advanced HNSCC. Furthermore, with the identification of a biologically distinct subset of HNSCC tumors acquired from human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that generally portends a good prognosis, high expression of HGF or c-Met in HPV-negative tumors has been associated with worse prognosis. Dysregulated HGF/c-Met signaling results in an aggressive HNSCC phenotype which has led to clinical investigations for targeted inhibition of this pathway. In this review, HGF/c-Met signaling, pathway alterations, associations with clinical outcomes, and preclinical and clinical therapeutic strategies for targeting HGF/c-Met signaling in HNSCC are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatocyte Growth Factor Pathway in Cancer)
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