Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

PHA665752, a small-molecule inhibitor of c-Met, inhibits hepatocyte growth factor-stimulated migration and proliferation of c-Met-positive neuroblastoma cells

Hal E Crosswell1, Anindya Dasgupta2, Carlos S Alvarado2, Tanya Watt2, James G Christensen3, Pradip De2, Donald L Durden2 and Harry W Findley2*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital and University Medical Group of the Greenville Hospital System, Greenville, SC 29605, USA

2 Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation, AFLAC Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30022, USA

3 Cancer Biology, Pfizer Inc., La Jolla, CA 92121, USA

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:411  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-411

Published: 25 November 2009



c-Met is a tyrosine kinase receptor for hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF), and both c-Met and its ligand are expressed in a variety of tissues. C-Met/HGF/SF signaling is essential for normal embryogenesis, organogenesis, and tissue regeneration. Abnormal c-Met/HGF/SF signaling has been demonstrated in different tumors and linked to aggressive and metastatic tumor phenotypes. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated inhibition of c-Met/HGF/SF signaling by the small-molecule inhibitor PHA665752. This study investigated c-Met and HGF expression in two neuroblastoma (NBL) cell lines and tumor tissue from patients with NBL, as well as the effects of PHA665752 on growth and motility of NBL cell lines. The effect of the tumor suppressor protein PTEN on migration and proliferation of tumor cells treated with PHA665752 was also evaluated.


Expression of c-Met and HGF in NBL cell lines SH-EP and SH-SY5Y and primary tumor tissue was assessed by immunohistochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR. The effect of PHA665752 on c-Met/HGF signaling involved in NBL cell proliferation and migration was evaluated in c-Met-positive cells and c-Met-transfected cells. The transwell chemotaxis assay and the MTT assay were used to measure migration and proliferation/cell-survival of tumor cells, respectively. The PPAR-γ agonist rosiglitazone was used to assess the effect of PTEN on PHA665752-induced inhibition of NBL cell proliferation/cell-survival and migration


High c-Met expression was detected in SH-EP cells and primary tumors from patients with advanced-stage disease. C-Met/HGF signaling induced both migration and proliferation of SH-EP cells. Migration and proliferation/cell-survival were inhibited by PHA665752 in a dose-dependent manner. We also found that induced overexpression of PTEN following treatment with rosiglitazone significantly enhanced the inhibitory effect of PHA665752 on NBL-cell migration and proliferation.


c-Met is highly expressed in most tumors from patients with advanced-stage, metastatic NBL. Furthermore, using the NBL cell line SH-EP as a model, PHA665752 was shown to inhibit cMet/HGF/SF signaling in vitro, suggesting c-Met inhibitors may have efficacy for blocking local progression and/or metastatic spread of c-Met-positive NBL in vivo. These are novel findings for this disease and suggest that further studies of agents targeting the c-Met/HGF axis in NBL are warranted