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Cancer Microenviron. 2011 Dec;4(3):351-60. doi: 10.1007/s12307-010-0057-0. Epub 2010 Nov 27.

Matrix metalloproteinases in cytotoxic lymphocytes impact on tumour infiltration and immunomodulation.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, SE-413 45, Göteborg, Sweden.


To efficiently combat solid tumours, endogenously or adoptively transferred cytotoxic T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, need to leave the vasculature, traverse the interstitium and ultimately infiltrate the tumour mass. During this locomotion and migration in the three dimensional environment many obstacles need to be overcome, one of which is the possible impediment of the extracellular matrix. The first and obvious one is the sub-endothelial basement membrane but the infiltrating cells will also meet other, both loose and tight, matrix structures that need to be overridden. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are believed to be one of the most important endoprotease families, with more than 25 members, which together have function on all known matrix components. This review summarizes what is known on synthesis, expression patterns and regulation of MMPs in cytotoxic lymphocytes and their possible role in the process of tumour infiltration. We also discuss different functions of MMPs as well as the possible use of other lymphocyte proteases for matrix degradation.

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