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J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007 Mar;12(1):83-97.

Extracellular proteolysis in transgenic mouse models of breast cancer.

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Finsen Laboratory, Rigshospitalet 3735, Copenhagen BioCenter, Ole Maaløes Vej 5, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


Growth and invasion of breast cancer require extracellular proteolysis in order to physically restructure the tissue microenvironment of the mammary gland. This pathological tissue remodeling process depends on a collaboration of epithelial and stromal cells. In fact, the majority of extracellular proteases are provided by stromal cells rather than cancer cells. This distinct expression pattern is seen in human breast cancers and also in transgenic mouse models of breast cancer. The similar expression patterns suggest that transgenic mouse models are ideally suited to study the role of extracellular proteases in cancer progression. Here we give a status report on protease intervention studies in transgenic models. These studies demonstrate that proteases are involved in all stages of breast cancer progression from carcinogenesis to metastasis. Transgenic models are now beginning to provide vital mechanistic insight that will allow us to combat breast cancer invasion and metastasis with new protease-targeted drugs.

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