Activation of matrix metalloproteinase -9 (MMP-9) by heregulin in human breast cancer cells involves multiple signaling pathways

Jun Yao, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) plays an important role in tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Secretion of MMP-9 has been reported in various cancer types including lung cancer, brain cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer. Heregulin is a growth factor that regulates growth and differentiation of normal breast cells as well as mammary tumor cells. To study the role of heregulin in breast cancer metastasis, we tested whether heregulin may regulate MMP-9 secretion. By screening a panel of breast cancer cell line for their ability to respond to heregulin and produce MMP-9, we have found that MMP-9 secretion can be induced by heregulin-β1 in two breast cancer cell lines, SKBr3 and MCF-7. In both cell lines, increase of MMP-9 activity as shown by zymography was accompanied by increased protein level as well as mRNA level of MMP-9. Using a reporter luciferase assay, we have identified that proximal −670bp promoter of MMP-9 had similar activity to a 2.2kb MMP-9 promoter in response to heregulin stimulation. Heregulin treatment of SKBr3 and MCF-7 activated multiple signaling pathways inside cells. These include the Erk pathway, the p38 kinase pathway, PKC pathway, and PI-3K pathway. To examine which pathways are involved in MMP-9 activation by heregulin, we have used a panel of chemical inhibitors to specifically inhibit each one of these pathways. Ro-31-8220 (PKC inhibitor) and SB203580 (p38 kinase inhibitor) completely blocked heregulin activation of MMP-9. On the other hand, PD098059 (MEK-1 inhibitor) partially blocked MMP-9 activation, whereas PI-3K inhibitor, wortmannin, had no effect. Therefore, at least three signaling pathways are involved in activation of MMP-9 by heregulin. Since MMP-9 is tightly associated with metastatic potential, our study also suggests that heregulin may enhance breast tumor metastasis through induction of MMP-9 expression.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Yao, Jun, "Activation of matrix metalloproteinase -9 (MMP-9) by heregulin in human breast cancer cells involves multiple signaling pathways" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9977100.