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J Biol Chem. 2003 Feb 7;278(6):4135-44. Epub 2002 Nov 25.

Chlorotoxin inhibits glioma cell invasion via matrix metalloproteinase-2.

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Department of Neurobiology and Civitan International Research Center, University of Alabama, Birmingham 35294, USA.


Primary brain tumors (gliomas) have the unusual ability to diffusely infiltrate the normal brain thereby evading surgical treatment. Chlorotoxin is a scorpion toxin that specifically binds to the surface of glioma cells and impairs their ability to invade. Using a recombinant His-Cltx we isolated and identified the principal Cltx receptor on the surface of glioma cells as matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2). MMP-2 is specifically up-regulated in gliomas and related cancers, but is not normally expressed in brain. We demonstrate that Cltx specifically and selectively interacts with MMP-2 isoforms, but not with MMP-1, -3, and -9, which are also expressed in malignant glioma cells. Importantly, we show that the anti-invasive effect of Cltx on glioma cells can be explained by its interactions with MMP-2. Cltx exerts a dual effect on MMP-2: it inhibits the enzymatic activity of MMP-2 and causes a reduction in the surface expression of MMP-2. These findings suggest that Cltx is a specific MMP-2 inhibitor with significant therapeutic potential for gliomas and other diseases that invoke the activity of MMP-2.

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