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Leukemia. 1996 Sep;10(9):1520-6.

HL-60 leukemia cells produce an autocatalytically truncated form of matrix metalloproteinase-9 with impaired sensitivity to inhibition by tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases.

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Department of Medicine III, University of Munich Medical School, Grosshadern, Germany.


92-kDa type IV collagenase/gelatinase (matrix metalloproteinase-9; MMP-9; gelatinase B) expression and secretion has been shown to correlate with the invasive and metastatic potential of various malignant cells. MMP activity is tightly controlled by specific tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). We found the leukemic cell line HL-60 constitutively to release a 94-kDa gelatinase which we identified as MMP-9 shortened by nine amino acids at its N-terminal end. An additional gelatinolytic activity was present in small amounts and identified as a 63-kDa fragment of MMP-9 generated by autocatalytical processing. Both enzymes were identical regarding their N-terminus, indicating C-terminal truncation for the former. Incubation of cells with phorbol ester resulted in elevated amounts of both enzymes in conditioned media and in the secretion of TIMP-1. Both gelatinases were shown to be activated by trypsin and organomercurials and to possess similar activities towards various substrates. However, the 63-kDa enzyme differed from the 94-kDa enzyme in a significantly reduced inhibition by recombinant TIMP-1 and TIMP-2. Thus, the 63-kDa fragment of MMP-9 once activated may escape the regulatory influence of its specific inhibitors and may thereby promote matrix degradation during invasion of leukemic cells.

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