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J Biol Chem. 2008 Nov 21;283(47):32628-36. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M806266200. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Heparanase stimulation of protease expression implicates it as a master regulator of the aggressive tumor phenotype in myeloma.

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Department of Pathology, Center for Metabolic Bone Disease, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


High levels of heparanase are an indicator of poor prognosis in myeloma patients, and up-regulation of the enzyme enhances tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis in animal models. At least part of the impact of heparanase in driving the aggressive tumor phenotype is due to its effect on increasing the expression and shedding of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-1, a molecule known to promote myeloma progression. The present work demonstrated that elevation in heparanase expression in myeloma cells stimulates sustained ERK phosphorylation that in turn drives MMP-9 expression. In addition, urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and uPA receptor expression levels increased, and blocking the proteolytic activation of either MMP-9 or uPA inhibited the heparanase-induced increase in syndecan-1 shedding. Together these data provide a mechanism for heparanase-induced syndecan-1 shedding and, more importantly, demonstrate that heparanase activity in myeloma cells can lead to increased levels of proteases that are known to play important roles in the aggressive behavior of myeloma tumors. This in addition to its other known biological roles, indicates that heparanase acts as a master regulator of the aggressive tumor phenotype by up-regulating protease expression and activity within the tumor microenvironment.

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