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Int J Cancer. 2012 Oct 1;131(7):1537-48. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27436. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

The proteolytic activity of MT4-MMP is required for its pro-angiogenic and pro-metastatic promoting effects.

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  • 1Laboratory of Tumor and Developmental Biology, Groupe Interdisciplinaire de Génoprotéomique Appliquée-Cancer, GIGA-Cancer, University of Liege, Liège, Belgium.


Membrane-type 4 matrix metalloprotease (MT4-MMP) expression in breast adenocarcinoma stimulates tumor growth and metastatic spreading to the lung. However, whether these pro-tumorigenic and pro-metastatic effects of MT4-MMP are related to a proteolytic action is not yet known. Through site directed mutagenesis MT4-MMP has been inactivated in cancer cells through Glutamic acid 249 substitution by Alanine in the active site. Active MT4-MMP triggered an angiogenic switch at day 7 after tumor implantation and drastically accelerated subcutaneous tumor growth as well as lung colonization in recombination activating gene-1-deficient mice. All these effects were abrogated upon MT4-MMP inactivation. In sharp contrast to most MMPs being primarily of stromal origin, we provide evidence that tumor-derived MT4-MMP, but not host-derived MT4-MMP contributes to angiogenesis. A genetic approach using MT4-MMP-deficient mice revealed that the status of MT4-MMP produced by host cells did not affect the angiogenic response. Despite of this tumor intrinsic feature, to exert its tumor promoting effect, MT4-MMP requires a permissive microenvironment. Indeed, tumor-derived MT4-MMP failed to circumvent the lack of an host angio-promoting factor such as plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Overall, our study demonstrates the key contribution of MT4-MMP catalytic activity in the tumor compartment, at the interface with host cells. It identifies MT4-MMP as a key intrinsic tumor cell determinant that contributes to the elaboration of a permissive microenvironment for metastatic dissemination.

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