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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jan;1824(1):123-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2011.07.025. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

Live-cell imaging of tumor proteolysis: impact of cellular and non-cellular microenvironment.

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Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Our laboratory has had a longstanding interest in how the interactions between tumors and their microenvironment affect malignant progression. Recently, we have focused on defining the proteolytic pathways that function in the transition of breast cancer from the pre-invasive lesions of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive ductal carcinomas (IDCs). We use live-cell imaging to visualize, localize and quantify proteolysis as it occurs in real-time and thereby have established roles for lysosomal cysteine proteases both pericellularly and intracellularly in tumor proteolysis. To facilitate these studies, we have developed and optimized 3D organotypic co-culture models that recapitulate the in vivo interactions of mammary epithelial cells or tumor cells with stromal and inflammatory cells. Here we will discuss the background that led to our present studies as well as the techniques and models that we employ. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Proteolysis 50 years after the discovery of lysosome.

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