Macrophage-stimulating protein and its receptor in non-small-cell lung tumors: Induction of receptor tyrosine phosphorylation and cell migration

Christopher G. Willett, Ming Hai Wang, Rodica L. Emanuel, Sherry A. Graham, David I. Smith, Viji Shridhar, David J. Sugarbaker, Mary E. Sunday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations


Previously, we identified macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP) as being expressed during hamster lung injury induced by nitrosamine carcinogens. Transient, generalized epithelial-cell hyperplasia during the preneoplastic period, and eventually nonneuroendocrine (non-NE) lung tumors, are known to develop in these nitrosamine-treated hamsters. We wished to test the hypothesis that MSP and its tyrosine kinase receptor, RON, might represent an autocrine/paracrine system involved in the pathogenesis of human nonneuroendocrine lung tumors, the non-small-cell carcinomas (NSCLCs). We found that this occurred in a paracrine fashion in three of eight primary human NSCLCs that expressed messenger RNA (mRNA) for MSP at high levels in histologically normal lung adjacent to the tumor, but not in the primary tumor, together with mRNA for RON in both normal and tumor tissue. MSP and RON could also constitute an autocrine/paracrine system in human NSCLC cell lines: five of 16 cell lines (squamous and adenosquamous) expressed both MSP and RON; and an additional five of 16 cell lines expressed RON without detectable MSP. Although three cases of primary squamous-cell carcinomas expressed MSP (two of three in the tumor and one of three in nonneoplastic lung), mRNA for RON was not detectable in these cases. RON was functional in all tested RON mRNA-positive cell lines, with exogenous MSP inducing RON-mediated tyrosine phosphorylation. Treatment of a RON-positive adenosquamous carcinoma cell line with MSP additionally resulted in increased motility in a cell-migration assay, suggesting that MSP might promote cell migration of some NSCLCs. In conclusion, MSP and RON might represent an autocrine/paracrine system involved in the pathogenesis of lung cancer, although the nature of the biologic responses in different cell types might vary considerably.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-496
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory cell and molecular biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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