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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2002;19(1):79-85.

An inhibitor of stress-activated MAP-kinases reduces invasion and MMP-2 expression of malignant melanoma cells.

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Institute of Pathology, Charité Hospital, Berlin, Germany.


A lot of parallels have been described between invasion of malignant tumor cells and leukocyte movement during inflammatory responses. Concerning these similarities, we investigated the function of cytokine-suppressive anti-inflammatory drugs (CSAIDs), which act via inhibition of stress-activated MAP-kinases, in regulation of expression of proteolytic enzymes and in vitro invasion of malignant melanoma cells. The p38MAPK inhibitor SB203580 reduced matrigel invasion of MeWo cells by 60%, while the MEK-1 inhibitor PD98059 did not have any effect on invasion. Active p38MAPK was detected in MeWo cells by immunoblotting and confocal microscopy. Cells showed a constitutive expression of matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 as well as tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 and TIMP-2 mRNAs. Expression of MMP-1 or urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) was not detected by Northern blot. Inhibition of p38MAPK by the specific inhibitor SB203580 resulted in downregulation of MMP-2 mRNA and protein levels as well as gelatinolytic activity, while expression levels of TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 mRNAs were not changed. The specific MEK-1 inhibitor PD98059 did not change expression of MMP-2 or TIMPs. Neither SB203580 nor PD98059 changed proliferation of cells. The results suggest that stress-activated protein kinases like p38MAPK are involved in regulation of expression of MMP-2 as well as in vitro invasion of malignant melanoma cells. Inhibitors of p38MAPK may be promising substances to interfere with a signaling cascade associated with invasion of malignant tumor cells.

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