Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) is one of only a few enzymes with the ability to degrade the stromal collagens (types I and III) at neutral pH, and high expression of MMP-1 has been associated with aggressive and invasive cancers. We recently reported a single nucleotide insertion/deletion polymorphism (SNP) in the collagenase-1 (MMP-1) promoter (Rutter et al.  Can. Res. 58:5321-5325), where the insertion of an extra guanine (G) at -1607 bp creates the sequence, 5'-GGAA-3 (2G allele), compared to the sequence 5'-GAA-3' (1G allele). The presence of 2G constitutes a binding site for the ETS family of transcription factors, and increases MMP-1 transcription in fibroblasts and A2058 melanoma cells cultured in vitro. In addition, the presence of the 2G allele has been linked to several aggressive malignancies as well as to enhanced expression of MMP-1. In this study, we describe a melanoma cell line, VMM5, that is 1G homozygous, but that is invasive and expresses high levels of MMP-1 constitutively. The high level of MMP-1 expression in VMM5 cells is due to the utilization of both the p38 and ERK1/2 transduction pathways. In contrast, in the A2058 cell line, which also expresses MMP-1 constitutively and which is 2G homozygous, only the ERK pathway is activated. Thus, our data suggest that in the absence of 2G allele and in the presence of the appropriate transcription factors, tumor cells may use alternative signal/transduction pathways and cis-acting sequences to achieve high levels of MMP-1 expression, which contribute to the ability of tumor cells to invade, regardless of their genotype.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.