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J Biol Chem. 2008 Mar 7;283(10):6232-40. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M705759200. Epub 2008 Jan 3.

Membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in prostate cancer.

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Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


By mining DNA microarray data bases at GenBank, we identified up-regulation of membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) in human primary and metastatic prostate cancer specimens as compared with nonmalignant prostate tissues. To explore the role of up-regulated MT1-MMP in early stage cancer progression, we have employed a three-dimensional cell culture model. Minimally invasive human prostate cancer cells (LNCaP) were transfected with MT1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) chimeric cDNA as compared with GFP cDNA, and morphologic and phenotypic changes were characterized. GFP-expressing LNCaP cells formed multicellular spheroids with cuboidal-like epithelial morphology, whereas MT1-GFP-expressing cells displayed a fibroblast-like morphology and a scattered growth pattern in type I collagen gels. Cell morphologic changes were accompanied by decreased epithelial markers and enhanced mesenchymal markers, consistent with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. MT1-MMP-induced morphologic change and cell scattering were abrogated by target inhibition of either the catalytic domain or the hemopexin domain. We further demonstrated that MT1-MMP-induced phenotypic changes were dependent upon up-regulation of Wnt5a, which has been implicated in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. We conclude that MT1-MMP plays an important role in early cancer dissemination by converting epithelial cells to migratory mesenchymal-like cells.

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