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Br J Cancer. 1999 May;80(5-6):733-43.

Expression of collagenases-1 and -3 and their inhibitors TIMP-1 and -3 correlates with the level of invasion in malignant melanomas.

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Department of Dermatology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


Since proteolysis of the dermal collagenous matrix and basement membranes is required for local invasive growth and early metastasis formation of cutaneous melanomas, we have analysed the activities/expression levels of certain metalloproteinases in melanomas and cultured melanoma cells by in situ hybridization and Northern analysis. In addition to collagenases-1 and -3 that have been implicated in invasive growth behaviour of various malignant tumours, we analysed the levels of 72-kDa gelatinase and its activators MT1-MMP and TIMP-2 in cultured melanoma cells. The lesions examined included three cases of lentigo maligna and 28 cases of Clark grade I-V melanomas. The premalignant as well as the grade I tumours were consistently negative for collagenase-1 and -3 and TIMP-1 and -3. The collagenases were predominantly expressed in the cancer cells of Clark grade III and IV tumours. TIMP-1 and -3 were abundantly expressed in the cancer and/or stromal cells of grade III and IV melanomas, while TIMP-2 protein was detected also in melanomas representing lower invasive potential. Northern analysis of seven melanoma cell lines showed that the expression of collagenase-1 and TIMPs-1 and -3 was associated with 72-kDa gelatinase positivity. All melanoma cell lines were positive for MT1-MMP and TIMP-2 mRNAs. Our results suggest that overexpression of collagenases-1 and -3 and TIMPs-1 and -3 is induced during melanoma progression. Expression of TIMPs may reflect host response to tumour invasion in an effort to control MMP activity and preserve extracellular matrix integrity.

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