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Matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9, also known as gelatinase B or 92-kd Type IV collagenase) is overexpressed in many human and murine cancers. We induced carcinomas in mice carrying a transgene that links the MMP-9 promoter to the reporter ss-galactosidase so that activation of the MMP-9 promoter would be indicated by ss-galactosidase. Mammary carcinomas were induced by mating the MMP-9 promoter reporter transgenic mice with mice carrying a transgene for murine mammary tumor virus promoter linked to polyoma middle T antigen, a transgene that leads to rapid development of mammary tumors in female mice. None of the hyperplastic mammary glands and none of the carcinomas in situ expressed ss-galactosidase. However, all invasive tumors had evidence of ss-galactosidase expression. In addition to the breast carcinomas, a malignant teratoma in a female and a papillary adenocarcinoma in the pelvic region of a male arose and were also ss-galactosidase positive. We also induced skin tumors in the mice with the MMP-9 reporter transgene with 7, 12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) treatment followed by phorbol 12 myristate 13-acetate (TPA). None of the papillomas or in situ carcinomas showed any ss-galactosidase expression, but expression was seen in invasive carcinoma. Although normal skin epithelial cells did not express ss-galactosidase, we did find staining in a few cells at the duct of the sebaceous gland at the base of the hair follicles. The MMP-9 reporter transgene did not lead to expression in the alveolar macrophages, confirming that additional upstream sequences are required for expression in macrophages. These experiments have revealed that MMP-9 promoter activity is induced coincident with invasion during tumor progression. Furthermore, this indicates that the more proximal upstream elements of the promoter are sufficient for MMP-9 transcription during tumor progression.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Pathol

Publication Date





1777 - 1783


Animals, Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming, Carcinoma, Disease Progression, Female, Genes, Reporter, Male, Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental, Mammary Tumor Virus, Mouse, Matrix Metalloproteinase 9, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Neoplasms, Experimental, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Rabbits, Skin Neoplasms, Transgenes, beta-Galactosidase