Characterizing human colorectal carcinomas by proteolytic profile

Murnane MJ, Shuja S, Del Re E, Cai J, Iacobuzio-Donahue C, Klepeis V

In Vivo 1997 May-Jun;11(3):209-16

PMID: 9239513


Clinicopathologic staging of colorectal cancers cannot always predict aggressiveness of prognosis for a particular patient. We have used activity assays for cysteine proteinases, cathepsins B, L and H (CB, CL and CH) and matrix metalloproteinases, MMP-2 and MMP-9, to identify several distinctive, reproducible proteolytic profiles in a large set of colorectal carcinomas. We observed that individual proteinases demonstrated specific and distinct levels of activity at different cancer stages, possible reflecting non-random steps in a proteolytic cascade related to tumor development. We also observed that individual colon cancers fell into relatively few categories when characterized for the combined expression of three proteinases: CB, CL and MMP-9. Four proteolytic profiles, designated “Early”, “Middle”, “Late”, and “High”, could be used to define almost 80% of the colorectal carcinomas analyzed. Such profiles, based on the expression of several proteinases in a given tumor, provided information independent of clinical stage and may identify crucial variations in tumor behavior.