Mutations in a receptor, known as Met, that alter its location within a cell can promote tumour formation and spreading, reports a paper online this week in Nature Cell Biology. Blocking the intracellular accumulation of mutant Met may therefore open a new avenue for therapeutic intervention in certain tumours.
Met is found predominately at the membrane that encircles a cell, but Stephanie Kermorgant and colleagues detected a cancer-associated mutant of Met that instead was present on specific structures within the cell. They found that cells expressing this mutant receptor could form tumours, suggesting that this altered localization could support the development and spread of cancer. The team discovered that although these cells were insensitive to a Met inhibitor compound, their tumourigenic properties were blocked by drugs that inhibit Met’s intracellular localization.
These results show that the localization of Met is an important part of its ability to promote the development and spread of tumours. They suggest that compounds that target Met ‘trafficking’ within a cell could have beneficial effects in certain Met-driven cancers.