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Mol Cancer Res. 2004 Feb;2(2):73-80.

Tumor-stroma interaction: positive feedback regulation of extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN) expression and matrix metalloproteinase-dependent generation of soluble EMMPRIN.

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Oncology Research, Centocor, Inc., Malvern, PA 19087, USA.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are metal-dependent endopeptidases that play pivotal roles in tumor disease progression. In many solid tumors, MMPs are indeed produced by tumor stromal cells, rather than by tumor cells. This expression pattern is, at least in part, regulated by tumor-stroma interaction via tumor cell-associated extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer (EMMPRIN). In vitro, recombinant EMMPRIN dose-dependently stimulated MMP-1 production by primary human fibroblast cells. Interestingly, in addition to stimulating MMP expression, EMMPRIN also induced its own gene expression. To further explore this potential positive feedback regulatory mechanism, we generated human breast cancer cells expressing different levels of EMMPRIN. Coculture of EMMPRIN-positive tumor cells with fibroblast cells resulted in a concomitant stimulation of MMP-2, MMP-9, and EMMPRIN production. This induction was EMMPRIN dependent, was further enhanced by overexpression, and was reduced by antisense suppression of EMMPRIN expression in tumor cells. Increased expression of membrane-associated EMMPRIN was accompanied by an MMP-dependent generation of a soluble form of EMMPRIN representing a proteolytic cleavage product lacking the carboxyl terminus. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model in which tumor cell-associated EMMPRIN stimulates MMPs, as well as EMMPRIN expression in tumor stroma. Increased MMP activity in tumor local environment results in proteolytic cleavage of membrane-associated EMMPRIN, releasing soluble EMMPRIN. Soluble EMMPRIN in turn acts in a paracrine fashion on stroma cells that are both adjacent and distant to tumor sites to further stimulate the production of MMPs and additional EMMPRIN, which consequently contributes to tumor angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis.

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