Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 inhibited human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell invasion through reconstituted basement membrane in vitro. Inhibition of invasion was dependent upon plasminogen and MMP-3 activation, was impaired by the peptide MMP-3 inhibitor Ac-Arg-Cys- Gly-Val-Pro-Asp-NH2 and was associated with: rapid MMP-3-mediated plasminogen degradation to microplasminogen and angiostatin-like fragments; the removal of single-chain urokinase plasminogen activator from MDAMB- 231 cell membranes; impaired membrane plasminogen association; reduced rate of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and membrane-mediated plasminogen activation; and reduced laminin-degrading capacity. Purified human plasminogen lysine binding site-1 (kringles 1–3) exhibited a similar capacity to inhibit MDA-MB-231 invasion, impair t-PA and cell membrane-mediated plasminogen activation and impair laminin degradation by plasmin. Our data provide evidence that MMP-3 can inhibit breast tumour cell invasion in vitro by a mechanism involving plasminogen degradation to fragments that limit plasminogen activation and the degradation of laminin.This supports the hypothesis that MMP-3, under certain conditions, may protect against tumour invasion, which would help to explain why MMP-3 expression, associated with benign and early stage breast tumours, is frequently lost in advanced stage, aggressive, breast disease.
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