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Br J Cancer. 1998 Aug;78(3):349-53.

Unique activation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 within human liver metastasis from colorectal cancer.

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Colorectal Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Experimental in vitro and animal data support an important role for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in cancer invasion and metastasis via proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Our previous data have shown that MMP-9 mRNA is localized to the interface between liver metastasis and normal liver tissue, indicating that MMP-9 may play an important role in liver metastasis formation. In the present study, we analysed the cellular enzymatic expression of MMP-9 in 18 human colorectal cancer (CRC) liver metastasis specimens by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and zymography. ELISA analysis reveals that the latent form of MMP-9 is present in both liver metastasis and paired adjacent normal liver tissue. The mean level of the latent form of MMP-9 is 580+/-270 ng per mg total tissue protein (mean+/-s.e.) in liver metastasis vs 220+/-90 in normal liver tissue. However, this difference is not significantly different (P = 0.26). Using gelatin zymography, the 92-kDa band representative of the latent form is present in both liver metastasis and normal liver tissue. However, the 82 kDa band, representative of the active form of MMP-9, was seen only in liver metastasis. This was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Our observation of the unique presence of the active form of MMP-9 within liver metastasis suggests that proMMP-9 activation may be a pivotal event during CRC liver metastasis formation.

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