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Cell. 1998 Aug 7;94(3):353-62.

Requirement for specific proteases in cancer cell intravasation as revealed by a novel semiquantitative PCR-based assay.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Division of Neoplastic Diseases, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Proteases are crucial for cancer metastasis, but due to lack of assays, their role in intravasation has not yet been tested. We have developed a human Alu sequence PCR-based assay to quantitate intravasated cells in an in vivo model. We demonstrated that metalloproteinases (MMPs), and most likely MMP-9, are required for intravasation by showing that marimastat, an inhibitor of MMPs, reduced intravasation by more than 90%, and that only tumor cell lines expressing MMP-9 intravasated. Cells with low surface urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and uPA receptor (uPAR) were also incapable of intravasation, despite the presence of high levels of MMP-9. We concluded that breaching of the vascular wall is a rate-limiting step for intravasation, and consequently for metastasis, and that cooperation between uPA/uPAR and MMP-9 is required to complete this step.

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