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Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jul;31(7):1175-84. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgp248. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

MMP13 as a stromal mediator in controlling persistent angiogenesis in skin carcinoma.

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German Cancer Research Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) such as MMP13 promote tumour growth and progression by mediating extracellular matrix (ECM) reorganization and regulating the biological activity of cytokines. Using Mmp13-/- mice, we demonstrate an essential role of this single collagenase for highly malignant and invasive growth in skin squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Lack of host MMP13 strongly impaired tumour growth of malignant SCC cells, leading to small, mostly avascular cysts. While initial stromal activation in tumour transplants of Mmp13+/+ and Mmp13-/- animals was similar, MMP13 was essential for maintenance of angiogenesis and for invasion. MMP13 was induced in fibroblasts of the wild-type animals at the onset of invasion and correlated with a strong increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein and its association with vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 on endothelial cells in invasive areas. In contrast, VEGF protein in the stroma was barely detectable and tumour invasion was downregulated in Mmp13-/- animals, despite ongoing VEGF messenger RNA expression. Taken together with in vitro data showing the release of VEGF from the ECM by MMP13 expressing fibroblasts, these data strongly suggest a crucial role of MMP13 in promoting angiogenesis via releasing VEGF from the ECM and thus allowing the invasive growth of the SCC cells.

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