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Core cysteine residues in the Plasminogen-Apple-Nematode (PAN) domain are critical for HGF/c-MET signaling

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Communications Biology
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The Plasminogen-Apple-Nematode (PAN) domain, with a core of four to six cysteine residues, is found in > 28,000 proteins across 959 genera. Still, its role in protein function is not fully understood. The PAN domain was initially characterized in numerous proteins, including HGF. Dysregulation of HGF-mediated signaling results in multiple deadly cancers. The binding of HGF to its cell surface receptor, c-MET, triggers all biological impacts. Here, we show that mutating four core cysteine residues in the HGF PAN domain reduces c-MET interaction, subsequent c-MET autophosphorylation, and phosphorylation of its downstream targets, perinuclear localization, cellular internalization of HGF, and its receptor, c-MET, and c-MET ubiquitination. Furthermore, transcriptional activation of HGF/c-MET signaling-related genes involved in cancer progression, invasion, metastasis, and cell survival were impaired. Thus, targeting the PAN domain of HGF may represent a mechanism for selectively regulating the binding and activation of the c-MET pathway.