Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), in particular MMP-2, MMP-9 and MMP-14, play a key role in various aspects of cancer pathology. Likewise, ADAMs (a disintegrin and metalloproteinases), including ADAM12, are upregulated in malignant tumors and contribute to the pathology of cancers. Here, we show that there is a positive correlation between MMP-14 and ADAM12 expression in human breast cancer. We demonstrated that in 293-VnR and human breast cancer cells expressing ADAM12 at the cell surface, endogenous MMP-14 was recruited to the cell surface, resulting in its activation. Subsequent to this activation, gelatin degradation was stimulated and tumor cell apoptosis was decreased, with reduced expression of the pro-apoptotic proteins BCL2L11 and BIK. The effect on gelatin degradation was abrogated by inhibition of the MMP-14 activity and appeared to be dependent on cell surface αVβ3 integrin localization, but neither the catalytic activity of ADAM12 nor the cytoplasmic tail of ADAM12 were required. The significance of ADAM12-induced activation of MMP-14 was underscored by a reduction in MMP-14-mediated gelatin degradation and abolition of apoptosis-protective effects by specific monoclonal antibodies against ADAM12. Furthermore, orthotopic implantation of ADAM12-expressing MCF7 cells in nude mice produced tumors with increased levels of activated MMP-14 and confirmed that ADAM12 protects tumor cells against apoptosis, leading to increased tumor progression. In conclusion, our data suggest that a ternary protein complex composed of ADAM12, αVβ3 integrin and MMP-14 at the tumor cell surface regulates the function of MMP-14. This interaction might point to a novel concept for the development of MMP-14-targeting drugs in treating cancer.
Journal of Cell Science, 2013, Vol 126, Issue 20, p. 4707-20