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Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 15;70(6):2204-12. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3698. Epub 2010 Mar 2.

Simultaneous visualization of protumorigenic Src and MT1-MMP activities with fluorescence resonance energy transfer.

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Department of Bioengineering, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois 61801, USA.


Both Src kinase and membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) play critical roles in cancer invasion and metastasis. It is not clear, however, how the spatiotemporal activation of these two critical enzymes is coordinated in response to an oncogenic epithelial growth factor (EGF) stimulation. Here, we have visualized the activities of Src and MT1-MMP concurrently in a single live cell by combining two fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) pairs with distinct spectra: (a) cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) and yellow FP (YFP), and (b) orange FP (mOrange2) and red FP (mCherry). The new FRET pair, mOrange2 and mCherry, was first characterized in vitro and in cultured mammalian cells. When integrated with the CFP/YFP pair, this new pair allowed the revelation of an immediate, rapid, and relatively dispersed Src activity. In contrast, the MT1-MMP activity displayed a slow increase at the cell periphery, although Src was shown to play a role upstream to MT1-MMP globally. This difference in the activation patterns of MT1-MMP and Src in response to EGF is further confirmed using an optimized MT1-MMP biosensor capable of being rapidly cleaved by MT1-MMP. The results indicate that although Src and MT1-MMP act globally in the same signaling pathway, their activations differ in space and time upon EGF stimulation, possibly mediated by different sets of intermediates at different subcellular locations. Our results also showed the potential of mOrange2/mCherry as a new FRET pair, together with the popular variants of CFP and YFP, for the simultaneous visualization of multiple molecular activities in a single live cell.

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