Cancer research

Ovarian cancer cell detachment and multicellular aggregate formation are regulated by membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase: a potential role in I.p. metastatic dissemination.

PMID 19706774


An early event in the metastasis of epithelial ovarian carcinoma is shedding of cells from the primary tumor into the peritoneal cavity followed by diffuse i.p. seeding of secondary lesions. Anchorage-independent metastatic cells are present as both single cells and multicellular aggregates (MCA), the latter of which adhere to and disaggregate on human mesothelial cell monolayers, subsequently forming invasive foci. Although this unique metastatic mechanism presents a distinct set of therapeutic challenges, factors that regulate MCA formation and dissemination have not been extensively evaluated. Proteolytic activity is important at multiple stages in i.p. metastasis, catalyzing migration through the mesothelial monolayer and invasion of the collagen-rich submesothelial matrix to anchor secondary lesions, and acquisition of membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP; MMP-14) expression promotes a collagen-invasive phenotype in ovarian carcinoma. MT1-MMP is regulated posttranslationally through multiple mechanisms including phosphorylation of its cytoplasmic tail, and the current data using ovarian cancer cells expressing wild-type, phosphomimetic (T567E-MT1-MMP), and phosphodefective (T567A-MT1-MMP) MT1-MMP show that MT1-MMP promotes MCA formation. Confluent T567E-MT1-MMP-expressing cells exhibit rapid detachment kinetics, spontaneous release as cell-cell adherent sheets concomitant with MT1-MMP-catalyzed alpha(3) integrin ectodomain shedding, and robust MCA formation. Expansive growth within three-dimensional collagen gels is also MT1-MMP dependent, with T567E-MT1-MMP-expressing cells exhibiting multiple collagen invasive foci. Analysis of human ovarian tumors shows elevated MT1-MMP in metastases relative to paired primary tumors. These data suggest that MT1-MMP activity may be key to ovarian carcinoma metastatic success by promoting both formation and dissemination of MCAs.

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