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Cancer Cell-Associated MT1-MMP Promotes Blood Vessel Invasion and Distant Metastasis in Triple-Negative Mammary Tumors.
Functional roles for the cancer cell-associated membrane type I matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) during early steps of the metastatic cascade in primary tumors remain unresolved. In an effort to determine its significance, we determined the in vivo effects of RNAi-mediated downregulation in mammary cancer cells on the migration, blood and lymphatic vessel invasion (LVI), and lymph node and lung metastasis. We also correlated the expression of cancer cell MT1-MMP with blood vessel invasion (BVI) in 102 breast cancer biopsies. MT1-MMP downregulation in cancer cells decreased lung metastasis without affecting primary tumor growth. The inhibition of lung metastasis correlated with reduced cancer cell migration and BVI. Furthermore, cancer cell-expressed MT1-MMP upregulated the expression of MT1-MMP in vascular endothelial cells, but did not affect MT1-MMP expression in lymphatic endothelial cells, LVI, or lymph node metastasis. Of clinical importance, we observed that elevated MT1-MMP expression correlated with BVI in biopsies from triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC), which have a poor prognosis and high incidence of distant metastasis, relative to other breast cancer subtypes. Together, our findings established that MT1-MMP activity in breast tumors is essential for BVI, but not LVI, and that MT1-MMP should be further explored as a predictor and therapeutic target of hematogenous metastasis in TNBC patients. Cancer Res; 71(13); 4527-38. ©2011 AACR.
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