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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jan 2;273(1):618-26.

Stromelysin-3 is induced in tumor/stroma cocultures and inactivated via a tumor-specific and basic fibroblast growth factor-dependent mechanism.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Stromelysin-3 (STR-3) is a recently characterized matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) with a unique pattern of expression and substrate specificity. Unlike other MMPs, STR-3 is consistently and dramatically overexpressed by multiple epithelial malignancies, including carcinomas of the breast, lung, colon, head and neck, and skin. Recent studies suggest that STR-3 promotes the local establishment of epithelial malignancies, contributing to tumor cell survival and implantation in host tissues; however, STR-3's mechanism of action remains undefined. STR-3 is a stromal cell product, prompting speculation that infiltrating stromal cells secrete STR-3 in response to tumor-derived factors. To explore this possibility, we developed a tumor/"stroma" coculture assay in which non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines were grown on confluent monolayers of normal pulmonary fibroblasts. In these tumor/stroma cocultures, NSCLCs stimulate normal pulmonary fibroblasts to secrete STR-3 and release extracellular basic fibroblast growth factor. Thereafter, STR-3 is processed at a unique internal sequence via a basic fibroblast growth factor- and MMP-dependent mechanism to a previously unidentified 35-kDa protein that lacks enzymatic activity. 35-kDa STR-3 is the most abundant STR-3 protein in tumor/stroma cocultures and is only detected when normal pulmonary fibroblasts are cultured with malignant bronchial epithelial cells. Therefore, the tumor-specific processing of STR-3 to the 35-kDa protein is likely to be an important regulatory mechanism.

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