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Cancer Res. 2007 Dec 15;67(24):11760-8.

Galectin-3 cleavage: a novel surrogate marker for matrix metalloproteinase activity in growing breast cancers.

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Tumor Progression and Metastasis, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


Failed therapies directed against matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) in cancer patients may be attributed, in part, to lack of diagnostic tools to differentiate between pro-MMPs and active MMPs, which indicate whether a treatment is efficacious or not. Because galectin-3 is cleavable in vitro by MMPs, we have developed differential antibodies recognizing its cleaved and noncleaved forms and tested their clinical utilization as a surrogate diagnostic marker for the presence of active MMPs in growing breast cancers. Wild-type and cleavage-resistant galectin-3 were constructed and expressed in galectin-3-null human breast carcinoma cells (BT-549). Tumorigenic and angiogenic potential of the clones was studied by injections into nude mice. MMP-2, MMP-9, full-length, and cleaved galectin-3 were localized in the xenografts by immunohistochemical analysis of paraffin-embedded sections using specific antibodies. Activities of MMP-2/9 were corroborated by in situ zymography on frozen tissue sections. Galectin-3 cleavage was shown in vivo by differential antibody staining and colocalized with predicted active MMPs both in mouse xenografts and human breast cancer specimens. In situ zymography validated these results. In addition, BT-549 cells harboring noncleavable galectin-3 showed reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis compared with the wild-type. We conclude that galectin-3 cleavage is an active process during tumor progression and could be used as a simple, rapid, and reliable surrogate marker for the activities of MMPs in growing breast cancers.

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