Colocalisation of matrix metalloproteinase-9-mRNA and protein in human colorectal cancer stromal cells
The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are perceived as essential for tumour invasion and metastases. The purpose of this study was to determine the expression and cellular localisation of the 92 kDa type IV collagenase (MMP-9) protein and mRNA in human colorectal cancer (CRC). In CRC and matched normal mucosa specimens from 26 CRC patients, Northern blot hybridisation and Western blot analyses provide convincing evidence that MMP-9 is expressed in greater quantities in CRC than in normal tissue. The MMP-9 tumour to normal mucosa fold-increase (T/N) was 9.7 +/- 7.1 (mean +/- s.d.) (P < 0.001) for RNA and 7.1 +/- 3.9 (P < 0.001) for protein. The sites of MMP-9 mRNA and protein synthesis were colocalised in tumour stroma by in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry in 26 CRC samples. Both MMP-9 mRNA and protein signals were strongest in the population of stromal cells concentrated at the tumour-stroma interface of an invading tumour. Furthermore, MMP-9-positive cells were identified as macrophages using an antimacrophage antibody (KP1) in serial sections from ten CRC samples. Given the persistent localisation of MMP-9-producing macrophages to the interphase between CRC and surrounding stroma, our observations suggest that MMP-9 production is controlled, in part, by tumour-stroma cell interactions. Further studies are needed to determine the in vivo regulation of MMP-9 production from infiltrating peritumour macrophages.