[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many malignant characteristics of cancer cells are regulated through pathways induced by the tyrosine kinase activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Herein, we show that besides directly affecting the biology of cancer cells per se, EGFR also regulates the primary tumor microenvironment. Specifically, our findings demonstrate that both the expression and signaling activity of EGFR are required for the induction of a distinct intratumoral vasculature capable of sustaining tumor cell intravasation, a critical rate-limiting step in the metastatic cascade. An intravasation-sustaining mode of intratumoral angiogenic vessels depends on high levels of tumor cell EGFR and the interplay between EGFR-regulated production of interleukin 8 by tumor cells, interleukin-8–induced influx of tumor-infiltrating neutrophils delivering their unique matrix metalloproteinase-9, and neutrophil matrix metalloproteinase-9–dependent release of the vascular permeability and endothelial growth factor, VEGF. Our data indicate that through VEGF-mediated disruption of endothelial layer integrity and increase of intratumoral vasculature permeability, EGFR activity significantly facilitates active intravasation of cancer cells. Therefore, this study unraveled an important but overlooked function of EGFR in cancer, namely, its ability to create an intravasation-sustaining microenvironment within the developing primary tumor by orchestrating several interrelated processes required for the initial steps of cancer metastasis through vascular routes. Our findings also suggest that EGFR-targeted therapies might be more effective when implemented in cancer patients with early-staged primary tumors containing a VEGF-dependent angiogenic vasculature. Accordingly, early EGFR inhibition combined with various anti-VEGF approaches could synergistically suppress tumor cell intravasation through inhibiting the highly permeable angiogenic vasculature induced by EGFR-overexpressing aggressive cancer cells.
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 08/2015; 17(8):634-649. DOI:10.1016/j.neo.2015.08.002 · 4.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gelatinase B/ matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) (EC 126.96.36.199) cleaves many substrates and is produced by most cell types as a zymogen, proMMP-9, in complex with the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1). Natural proMMP-9 occurs as monomers, homomultimers, and heterocomplexes, but our knowledge about the overall structure of proMMP-9 monomers and multimers is limited. We investigated biochemical, biophysical, and functional characteristics of zymogen and activated forms of MMP-9 monomers and multimers. In contrast to a conventional notion of a dimeric nature of MMP-9 homomultimers, we demonstrate that these are reduction-sensitive trimers. Based on the information from electrophoresis, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we generated a 3D structure model of the proMMP-9 trimer. Remarkably, the proMMP-9 trimers possessed a 50-fold higher affinity for TIMP-1 than the monomers. In vivo, this finding was reflected in a higher extent of TIMP-1 inhibition of angiogenesis induced by trimers versus monomers. Our results show that proMMP-9 trimers constitute a novel structural and functional entity that is differentially regulated by TIMP-1.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: According to established notion, one of the major angiogenesis-inducing factors, pro-matrix metalloproteinase-9 (proMMP-9), is supplied to the tumor microenvironment by tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). Accumulated evidence, however, indicates that tumor-associated neutrophils (TANs) are also critically important for proMMP-9 delivery, especially at early stages of tumor development. To clarify how much angiogenic proMMP-9 is actually contributed by TAMs and TANs, we quantitatively evaluated TAMs and TANs from different tumor types, including human xenografts and syngeneic murine tumors grown in wild-type and Mmp9-knockout mice. Whereas host MMP-9 competence was required for full angiogenic potential of both normal and tumor-associated leukocytes, direct comparisons of neutrophils versus macrophages and TANs versus TAMs demonstrated that macrophages and TAMs secrete 40- to 50-fold less proMMP-9 than the same numbers of neutrophils or TANs. Correspondingly, the levels of MMP-9–mediated in vivo angiogenesis induced by neutrophils and TANs substantially exceeded those induced by macrophages and TAMs. MMP-9–delivering TANs were also required for development of metastasis-supporting intratumoral vasculature, characterized by ≥ 11-μm size lumens and partial coverage with stabilizing pericytes. Importantly, MMP-9–producing TAMs exhibit M2-skewed phenotype but do not express tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1), a novel characteristic allowing them to secrete TIMP-1–free, neutrophil-like MMP-9 zymogen unencumbered by its natural inhibitor. Together, our findings support the notion whereby TANs, capable of immediate release of their pre-stored cargo, are the major contributors of highly angiogenic MMP-9, whereas tumor-influxing precursors of macrophages require time to differentiate, polarize into M2-skewed TAMs, shut down their TIMP-1 expression, and only then, initiate relatively low-level production of TIMP-free MMP-9 zymogen.
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.) 10/2014; 16(10):771–788. DOI:10.1016/j.neo.2014.08.013 · 4.25 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A proangiogenic function of macrophages has long been attributed to their matrix metalloproteinase-9 zymogen (proMMP-9). Although tissue-infiltrating macrophages of M2-phenotype are regarded as proangiogenic, it has not been proved that angiogenesis-inducing proMMP-9 is actually supplied by M2-macrophages. We evaluated angiogenic capacities of human monocytes, mature M0-macrophages, and polarized M1- and M2-macrophages. Only M2-macrophages induced angiogenesis in vivo at levels comparable with highly-angiogenic neutrophils previously shown to release a unique, TIMP-1-free proMMP-9. Macrophage differentiation was accompanied by induction of low-angiogenic, TIMP-1-encumbered proMMP-9. However, polarization towards M2-, but not M1-phenotype, caused a substantial downregulation of TIMP-1 expression, resulting in production of angiogenic, TIMP-deficient proMMP-9. Correspondingly, the angiogenic potency of M2-proMMP-9 was lost after its complexing with TIMP-1, whereas siRNA-downregulation of TIMP-1 in M0- and M1-macrophages rendered them angiogenic. Similar to human cells, murine bone marrow-derived M2-macrophages also shutdown TIMP-1 secretion and produced proMMP-9 unencumbered by TIMP-1. Providing proof-of-principle, the angiogenic capacity of murine M2-macrophages depended on their TIMP-free proMMP-9 since M2-macrophages generated from Mmp9-null mice were non-angiogenic although their TIMP-1 was severely downregulated. Our study provides a unifying molecular mechanism for high angiogenic capacity of TIMP-unencumbered proMMP-9 that would be uniquely produced in a pathophysiological microenvironment by influxing neutrophils and/or M2-polarized macrophages.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Intravasation, the active entry of primary tumor cells into the vasculature, remains the least studied step in the metastatic cascade. Protease-mediated escape and stromal invasion of tumor cells represent widely-accepted processes leading up to the intravasation step. However, molecular factors that contribute directly to tumor cell vascular penetration have not been identified. In this study, the in vivo role of the collagenolytic protease, MMP-1, in cancer cell intravasation and metastasis was analyzed by employing a highly-disseminating variant of human HEp3 epidermoid carcinoma, HEp3-hi/diss. Whereas naturally-acquired or experimentally-induced MMP-1 deficiency substantially suppressed HEp3-hi/diss intravasation, supplementation of recombinant MMP-1 to MMP-1-silenced primary tumors, restored their impaired vascular dissemination. Surprisingly, abrogation of MMP-1 production and activity did not affect significantly HEp3-hi/diss migration or matrix invasion, suggesting non-collagenolytic mechanisms underlying MMP-1-dependent cell intravasation. In support of such non-collagenolytic mechanisms, MMP-1 silencing in HEp3-hi/diss cells modulated the microarchitecture and integrity of the angiogenic vasculature in a novel microtumor model. Concomitantly, MMP-1 deficiency led to decreased levels of intratumoral vascular permeability, tumor cell intravasation and metastatic dissemination. Taking advantage of PAR1 deficiency of HEp3-hi/diss cells, we further demonstrate that endothelial PAR1 is a putative non-tumor-cell/non-matrix target, activation of which by carcinoma-produced MMP-1 regulates endothelial permeability and transendothelial migration. The inhibitory effects of specific PAR1 antagonists in live animals have also indicated that the mechanisms of MMP-1-dependent vascular permeability in tumors involve endothelial PAR1 activation. Together, our findings mechanistically underscore the contribution of a tumor MMP-1/endothelial PAR1 axis to actual intravasation events manifested by aggressive carcinoma cells.
Cancer Research 05/2013; 73(14). DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-4495 · 9.33 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Specific cleavage of the transmembrane molecule, CUB domain-containing protein-1 (CDCP1), by plasmin-like serine proteases induces outside-in signal transduction that facilitates early stages of spontaneous metastasis leading to tumor cell intravasation, namely cell escape from the primary tumor, stromal invasion and transendothelial migration. We identified active β1 integrin as a biochemical and functional partner of the membrane-retained 70-kDa CDCP1 fragment, newly generated from its full-length 135-kDa precursor though proteolytic cleavage by serine proteases. Both in cell cultures and in live animals, active β1 integrin complexed preferentially with functionally activated, phosphorylated 70-kDa CDCP1. Complexing of β1 integrin the 70-kDa with CDCP1 fragment induced intracellular phosphorylation signaling, involving focal adhesion kinase-1 (FAK) and PI3 kinase (PI3K)-dependent Akt activation. Thus, inhibition of FAK/PI3K activities by specific inhibitors as well as short-hairpin RNA downregulation of β1 integrin significantly reduced FAK/Akt phosphorylation under conditions where CDCP1 was processed by serine proteases, indicating that FAK/PI3K/Akt pathway operates downstream of cleaved CDCP1 complexed with β1 integrin. Furthermore, this complex-dependent signaling correlated positively with high levels of tumor cell intravasation and dissemination. Correspondingly, abrogation in vivo of CDCP1 cleavage either by unique cleavage-blocking monoclonal antibody 10-D7 or by inhibition of proteolytic activity of plasmin-like serine proteases with aprotinin prevented β1 integrin/CDCP1 complexing and downstream FAK/Akt signaling concomitant with significant reduction of stromal invasion and spontaneous metastasis. Therefore, β1 integrin appears to serve as a motility-regulating partner mediating cross-talk between proteolytically cleaved, membrane-retained CDCP1 and members of FAK/PI3K/Akt pathway. This CDCP1 cleavage-induced signaling cascade constitutes a unique mechanism, independent of extracellular matrix remodeling, whereby a proteolytically cleaved CDCP1 regulates in vivo locomotion and metastasis of tumor cells through β1 integrin partnering. Our findings indicate that CDCP1 cleavage, occurring at the apex of a β1 integrin/FAK/PI3K/Akt signaling cascade, may represent a therapeutic target for CDCP1-positive cancers.Oncogene advance online publication, 3 December 2012; doi:10.1038/onc.2012.547.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plasmin, one of the most potent and reactive serine proteases, is involved in various physiological processes, including embryo development, thrombolysis, wound healing and cancer progression. The proteolytic activity of plasmin is tightly regulated through activation of its precursor, plasminogen, only at specific times and in defined locales as well as through inhibition of active plasmin by its abundant natural inhibitors. By exploiting the plasminogen activating system and overexpressing distinct components of the plasminogen activation cascade, such as pro-uPA, uPAR and plasminogen receptors, malignant cells can enhance the generation of plasmin which in turn, modifies the tumor microenvironment to sustain cancer progression. While plasmin-mediated degradation and modification of extracellular matrix proteins, release of growth factors and cytokines from the stroma as well as activation of several matrix metalloproteinase zymogens, all have been a focus of cancer research studies for decades, the ability of plasmin to cleave transmembrane molecules and thereby to generate functionally important cleaved products which induce outside-in signal transduction, has just begun to receive sufficient attention. Herein, we highlight this relatively understudied, but important function of the plasmin enzyme as it is generated de novo at the interface between cross-talking cancer and host cells.
BioMed Research International 10/2012; 2012:564259. DOI:10.1155/2012/564259 · 2.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Data accumulated over the latest two decades have established that the serine protease urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) is a potential therapeutic target in cancer. When designing inhibitors of the proteolytic activity of serine proteases, obtaining sufficient specificity is problematic since the topology of the proteases' active sites are highly similar. In an effort to generate highly specific uPA inhibitors with new inhibitory modalities, we isolated uPA-binding RNA aptamers by screening a library of 35 nucleotides long 2'-fluoro-pyrimidine RNA molecules using as bait a version of human pro-uPA lacking the epidermal growth factor-like and kringle domains. One pro-uPA binding aptamer sequence, referred to as upanap-126, proved to be highly specific for human uPA. Upanap-126 delayed the proteolytic conversion of human pro-uPA to active uPA, but did not inhibit plasminogen activation catalysed by two-chain uPA. The aptamer also inhibited the binding of pro-uPA to uPAR and the binding of vitronectin to the preformed pro-uPA/uPAR complexes both in cell-free systems and on cell surfaces. Furthermore, upanap-126 inhibited human tumour cell invasion in vitro, in the Matrigel assay, and in vivo, in the chick embryo assay of cell escape from microtumours. Finally, upanap-126 significantly reduced the levels of tumour cell intravasation and dissemination in the chick embryo model of spontaneous metastasis. Together, our findings demonstrate that utilisation of upanap-126 represents a novel multi-functional mechanistic modality for inhibition of uPA-dependent processes involved in tumour cell spread.
Molecular Cancer Research 10/2012; 10(12). DOI:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-12-0349 · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: After neoplastic cells leave the primary tumor and circulate, they may extravasate from the vasculature and colonize tissues to form metastases. β1 integrins play diverse roles in tumorigenesis and tumor progression, including extravasation. In blood cells, activation of β1 integrins can be regulated by "inside-out" signals leading to extravasation from the circulation into tissues. However, a role for inside-out β1 activation in tumor cell metastasis is uncertain. Here we show that β1 integrin activation promotes tumor metastasis and that activated β1 integrin may serve as a biomarker of metastatic human melanoma. To determine whether β1 integrin activation can influence tumor cell metastasis, the β1 integrin subunit in melanoma and breast cancer cell lines was stably knocked down with shRNA and replaced with wild-type or constitutively-active β1. When tumor cells expressing constitutively-active β1 integrins were injected intravenously into chick embryos or mice, they demonstrated increased colonization of the liver when compared to cells expressing wild-type β1 integrins. Rescue expression with mutant β1 integrins revealed that tumor cell extravasation and hepatic colonization required extracellular ligand binding to β1 as well as β1 interaction with talin, an intracellular mediator of integrin activation by the Rap1 GTPase. Furthermore, shRNA-mediated knock down of talin reduced hepatic colonization by tumor cells expressing wild-type β1, but not constitutively-active β1. Overexpression in tumor cells of the tumor suppressor, Rap1GAP, inhibited Rap1 and β1 integrin activation as well as hepatic colonization. Using an antibody that detects activated β1 integrin, we found higher levels of activated β1 integrins in human metastatic melanomas compared to primary melanomas, suggesting that activated β1 integrin may serve as a biomarker of invasive tumor cells. Altogether, these studies establish that inside-out activation of β1 integrins promotes tumor cell extravasation and colonization, suggesting diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for targeting of β1 integrin signaling in neoplasia.
PLoS ONE 10/2012; 7(10):e46576. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0046576 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Data accumulated over the latest two decades have established that the serine protease urokinase-type
plasminogen activator (uPA) is a potential therapeutic target in cancer. When designing inhibitors of the proteolytic activity of serine proteases, obtaining sufficient specificity is problematic, because the topology of the proteases' active sites are highly similar. In an effort to generate highly specific uPA inhibitors with new inhibitory modalities, we isolated uPA-binding RNA aptamers by screening a library of 35 nucleotides long 20-fluoro-pyrimidine RNA molecules using a version of human pro-uPA lacking the epidermal growth factor-like and kringle domains as bait. One pro-uPA–binding aptamer sequence, referred to as upanap-126, proved to be highly specific for human uPA. Upanap-126 delayed the proteolytic conversion of human pro-uPA to active uPA, but did not inhibit plasminogen activation catalyzed by two-chain uPA. The aptamer also inhibited the binding of pro-uPA to uPAR and the binding of vitronectin to the preformed pro-uPA/uPARcomplex, both in cell-free systems and on cell surfaces. Furthermore, upanap-126 inhibited human tumor cell invasion in vitro in the Matrigel assay and in vivo in the chick embryo assay of cell escape from microtumors. Finally, upanap-126 significantly reduced the levels of tumor cell intravasation and dissemination in the chick embryo model of spontaneous metastasis. Together, our findings show that usage of upanap-126 represents a novel multifunctional mechanistic modality for inhibition of uPA-dependent processes involved in tumor cell spread.
Molecular Cancer Research 01/2012; 10(12):1532-1543. · 4.38 Impact Factor