The Met receptor tyrosine kinase regulates a complex array of cellular behaviors collectively known as "invasive growth." While essential for normal development and wound repair, this program is frequently co-opted by tumors to promote their own growth, motility, and invasion. Met is overexpressed in a variety of human tumors, and this aberrant expression correlates with poor patient prognosis. Previous studies indicate that Met receptor levels are governed in part by cbl-mediated ubiquitination and degradation, and uncoupling of Met from cbl-mediated ubiquitination promotes its transforming activity. Here we describe a novel mechanism for Met degradation. We find that the Met receptor interacts with the transmembrane protein LRIG1 independent of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) stimulation and that LRIG1 destabilizes the Met receptor in a cbl-independent manner. Overexpression of LRIG1 destabilizes endogenous Met receptor in breast cancer cells and impairs their ability to respond to HGF. LRIG1 knockdown increases Met receptor half-life, indicating that it plays an essential role in Met degradation. Finally, LRIG1 opposes Met synergy with the ErbB2/Her2 receptor tyrosine kinase in driving cellular invasion. We conclude that LRIG1 is a novel suppressor of Met function, serving to regulate cellular receptor levels by promoting Met degradation in a ligand- and cbl-independent manner.
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