Diversity of matriptase expression level and function in breast cancer

Arkadiusz Welman, Duncan Sproul, Peter Mullen, Morwenna Muir, Andrew R. Kinnaird, David J. Harrison, Dana Faratian, Valerie G. Brunton, Margaret C. Frame

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Overexpression of matriptase has been reported in a variety of human cancers and is sufficient to trigger tumor formation in mice, but the importance of matriptase in breast cancer remains unclear. We analysed matriptase expression in 16 human breast cancer cell lines and in 107 primary breast tumors. The data revealed considerable diversity in the expression level of this protein indicating that the significance of matriptase may vary from case to case. Matriptase protein expression was correlated with HER2 expression and highest expression was seen in HER2-positive cell lines, indicating a potential role in this subgroup. Stable overexpression of matriptase in two breast cancer cell lines had different consequences. In MDA-MB-231 human breast carcinoma cells the only noted consequence of matriptase overexpression was modestly impaired growth in vivo. In contrast, overexpression of matriptase in 4T1 mouse breast carcinoma cells resulted in visible changes in morphology, actin staining and cell to cell contacts. This correlated with downregulation of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. These results suggest that the functions of matriptase in breast cancer are likely to be variable and cell context dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere34182
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2012


  • Matriptase
  • Breast cancer
  • HER2 expression
  • Overexpression
  • E-cadherin


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