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Bassi DE , Mahloogi H , Al-Saleem L , Lopez De Cicco R , Ridge JA , Klein-Szanto AJ
Elevated furin expression in aggressive human head and neck tumors and tumor cell lines
Mol Carcinog. 2001 Aug;31(4) :224-32
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Abstract
Pro-protein convertases (PCs) are proteases that recognize and cleave precursor proteins. Furin, a well-studied PC, is ubiquitously expressed, and it has been implicated in many physiological and pathological processes. Some substrates for furin, such as membrane type 1 (MT1) matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), an MMP that activates gelatinase, a collagen-degrading enzyme, are associated with the advanced malignant phenotype. This report examines the expression of furin in carcinoma cell lines of different invasive ability. The levels of furin mRNA and protein correlated with the aggressiveness of tumor cell lines derived from head and neck and lung cancers. Furin expression also was investigated in primary head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Furin mRNA was not detected in nonmetastasizing carcinomas. In contrast, furin mRNA was expressed in metastasizing HNSCCs. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis confirmed these results at the protein level. Furin activity was investigated indirectly by evaluating the expression of the pro-form and the processed form of MT1-MMP. Metastasizing HNSCCs showed increased expression of MT1-MMP. Furthermore, pro-MT1-MMP expression was noted in most of the nonmetastasizing HNSCCs analyzed by Western blot, and it was absent in the metastasizing HNSCCs. This finding suggests a lower level of furin-mediated MT1-MMP activation in the less aggressive cancers. These observations indicate that furin plays a role in tumor progression. Its overexpression in more aggressive or metastasizing cancers resulted in increased MMP processing.
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0899-1987 Journal Article