Gelatinase A (MMP-2), a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) involved in tumor invasion and angiogenesis, is secreted as an inactive zymogen (proMMP-2) and activated by proteolytic cleavage. Here we report that polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN)-derived elastase, cathepsin G, and proteinase-3 activate proMMP-2 through a mechanism that requires membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) expression. Immunoprecipitation of human PMN-conditioned medium with a mixture of antibodies to elastase, cathepsin G, and proteinase-3 abolished proMMP-2 activation, whereas individual antibodies were ineffective. Incubation of HT1080 cells with either purified PMN elastase or cathepsin G or proteinase-3 resulted in dose-and time-dependent proMMP-2 activation. Addition of PMN-conditioned medium to MT1-MMP expressing cells resulted in increased proMMP-2 activation and in vitro invasion of extracellular matrix (ECM), but had no effect with cells that express no MT1-MMP. MMP-2 activation by PMN-conditioned medium or purified elastase was blocked by the elastase inhibitor alpha(1)-antitrypsin but not by Batimastat, an MMP inhibitor, showing that elastase activation of MMP-2 is not mediated by MMP activities. The PMN-conditioned medium-induced increase in cell invasion was blocked by Batimastat as well as by alpha(1)-antitrypsin, showing that PMN serine proteinases trigger a proteinase cascade that entails proMMP-2 activation: this gelatinase is the downstream effector of the proinvasive activity of PMN proteinases. These findings indicate a novel role for PMN-mediated inflammation in a variety of tissue remodeling processes including tumor invasion and angiogenesis.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.