Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0002-7336-1857

Date of Graduation

8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Experimental Therapeutics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

David McConkey

Committee Member

David Hong

Committee Member

Varsha Gandhi

Committee Member

Gary Gallick

Committee Member

Joeseph Alcorn

Abstract

MET amplification has been clinically credentialed as a therapeutic target in gastric cancer, but the molecular mechanisms underlying sensitivity and resistance to MET inhibitors are still not well understood. Using whole-genome mRNA expression profiling, we identified autophagy as a top molecular pathway that was activated by the MET inhibitor crizotinib in drug-sensitive human gastric cancer cells, and functional studies confirmed that crizotinib increased autophagy levels in the drug sensitive cells in a concentration-dependent manner. We then used chemical and molecular approaches to inhibit autophagy in order to define its role in cell death. The clinically available inhibitor of autophagy, chloroquine, or RNAi-mediated knockdown of two obligate components of the autophagy pathway (ATG5 and ATG7) blocked cell death induced by crizotinib or RNAi-mediated knockdown of MET, and mechanistic studies localized the effects of autophagy to cytochrome c release from the mitochondria. Overall, the data reveal a novel relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in gastric cancer cells exposed to MET inhibitors. The observations suggest that autophagy inhibitors should not be used to enhance the effects of MET inhibitors in gastric cancer patients.

Keywords

Gastric cancer, oncology, MET, Autophagy

Available for download on Saturday, August 11, 2018

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