Current mechanistic insights into the roles of matrix metalloproteinases in tumour invasion and metastasis

Gordon T Brown, Graeme I Murray

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The purpose of this review is to highlight the recent mechanistic developments elucidating the role of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in tumour invasion and metastasis. The ability of tumour cells to invade, migrate and subsequently metastasise is a fundamental characteristic of cancer. Tumour invasion and metastasis is increasingly being characterised by the dynamic relationship between cancer cells and their microenvironment and developing a greater understanding of these basic pathological mechanisms is crucial. While MMPs have been strongly implicated in these processes as a result of extensive circumstantial evidence; for example increased expression of individual MMPs in tumours and association of specific MMPs with prognosis; the underpinning mechanisms are only now being elucidated. Recent studies are now providing a mechanistic basis, highlighting and reinforcing the catalytic and non-catalytic roles of specific MMPs as key players in tumour invasion and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of pathology
Issue number3
Early online date10 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015



  • extracellular matrix
  • matrix metalloproteinase
  • metastasis
  • microenvironment
  • protease
  • tumour invasion
  • tumour progression

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