Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) is a T-cell malignancy associated with human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and characterized by visceral invasion. Degradation of the extracellular matrix by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is a crucial process in invasion of tumors and metastasis. MMP-7 (or matrilysin), is a "minimal domain MMP" with proteolytic activity against components of the extracellular matrix. To determine the involvement of MMP-7 in visceral spread in ATL, this study investigated MMP-7 expression in ATL. MMP-7 expression was identified in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines, peripheral blood ATL cells and ATL cells in lymph nodes, but not in uninfected T-cell lines or normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells. MMP-7 expression was induced following infection of a human T-cell line with HTLV-1, and specifically by the viral protein Tax. Functionally, MMP-7 promoted cell migration of HTLV-1-infected T cells. The MMP-7 promoter activity was increased by Tax and reduced by deletion of the activator protein-1 (AP-1) binding site. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed high levels of AP-1 binding proteins, including JunD, in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines and ATL cells, and Tax elicited JunD binding to the MMP-7 AP-1 element. Tax-induced MMP-7 activation was inhibited by dominant negative JunD and augmented by JunD/JunD homodimers. Short interfering RNA against JunD inhibited MMP-7 mRNA expression in HTLV-1-infected T-cell lines. These results suggest that the induction of MMP-7 by Tax is regulated by JunD and that MMP-7 could facilitate visceral invasion in ATL. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 11th European Symposium on Calcium.
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