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J Cell Biol. 1999 Jan 25;144(2):373-84.

Membrane-type 1 matrix metalloprotease (MT1-MMP) enables invasive migration of glioma cells in central nervous system white matter.

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  • 1Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


Invasive glioma cells migrate preferentially along central nervous system (CNS) white matter fiber tracts irrespective of the fact that CNS myelin contains proteins that inhibit cell migration and neurite outgrowth. Previous work has demonstrated that to migrate on a myelin substrate and to overcome its inhibitory effect, rat C6 and human glioblastoma cells require a membrane-bound metalloproteolytic activity (C6-MP) which shares several biochemical and pharmacological characteristics with MT1-MMP. We show now that MT1-MMP is expressed on the surface of rat C6 glioblastoma cells and is coenriched with C6-MP activity. Immunodepletion of C6-MP activity is achieved with an anti-MT1-MMP antibody. These data suggest that MT1-MMP and the C6-MP are closely related or identical. When mouse 3T3 fibroblasts were transfected with MT1-MMP they acquired the ability to spread and migrate on the nonpermissive myelin substrate and to infiltrate into adult rat optic nerve explants. MT1-MMP-transfected fibroblasts and C6 glioma cells were able to digest bNI-220, one of the most potent CNS myelin inhibitory proteins. Plasma membranes of both MT1-MMP-transfected fibroblasts and C6 glioma cells inactivated inhibitory myelin extracts, and this activity was sensitive to the same protease inhibitors. Interestingly, pretreatment of CNS myelin with gelatinase A/MMP-2 could not inactivate its inhibitory property. These data imply an important role of MT1-MMP in spreading and migration of glioma cells on white matter constituents in vitro and point to a function of MT1-MMP in the invasive behavior of malignant gliomas in the CNS in vivo.

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