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BMC Cancer. 2005 Nov 17;5:149.

Abnormal expression and processing of the proprotein convertases PC1 and PC2 in human colorectal liver metastases.

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  • 1Transplant and Hepato-Pancreatobiliary Research Group, McGill University Health Center, McGill University, S.10.26, Montreal, H3A1A1, Canada.



The family of proprotein convertases has been recently implicated in tumorigenesis and metastasis in animal models. However, these studies have not yet been completely corroborated in human tumors.


Using RT PCR, immunoblot and immunohistochemistry we assessed the presence and the processing patterns of the convertases PC1 and PC2 as well as the PC2 specific chaperone 7B2 in human liver metastases originating from colorectal cancer and compared them to unaffected and normal liver. Furthermore, we assessed the presence and processing profiles of PC1, PC2 and 7B2 in primary colon cancers.


mRNA, protein expression, and protein cleavage profiles of proprotein convertases 1 and 2 are altered in liver colorectal metastasis, compared to unaffected and normal liver. Active PC1 protein is overexpressed in tumor, correlating with its mRNA profile. Moreover, the enhanced PC2 processing pattern in tumor correlates with the overexpression of its specific binding protein 7B2. These results were corroborated by immunohistochemistry. The specific and uniform convertase pattern observed in the metastases was present only in a fraction of primary colon cancers.


The uniformly altered proprotein convertase profile in liver metastases is observed only in a fraction of primary colon cancers, suggesting possible selection processes involving PCs during metastasis as well as an active role of PCs in liver metastasis. In addition, the exclusive presence of 7B2 in metastatic tumors may represent a new target for early diagnosis, prognosis and/or treatment.

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