Structural basis of the activation of c-MET receptor

Emiko Uchikawa, Zhiming Chen, Guan Yu Xiao, Xuewu Zhang, Xiao chen Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The c-MET receptor is a receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) that plays essential roles in normal cell development and motility. Aberrant activation of c-MET can lead to both tumors growth and metastatic progression of cancer cells. C-MET can be activated by either hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), or its natural isoform NK1. Here, we report the cryo-EM structures of c-MET/HGF and c-MET/NK1 complexes in the active state. The c-MET/HGF complex structure reveals that, by utilizing two distinct interfaces, one HGF molecule is sufficient to induce a specific dimerization mode of c-MET for receptor activation. The binding of heparin as well as a second HGF to the 2:1 c-MET:HGF complex further stabilize this active conformation. Distinct to HGF, NK1 forms a stable dimer, and bridges two c-METs in a symmetrical manner for activation. Collectively, our studies provide structural insights into the activation mechanisms of c-MET, and reveal how two isoforms of the same ligand use dramatically different mechanisms to activate the receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4074
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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