Matrix metalloproteinase-7-mediated cleavage of Fas ligand protects tumor cells from chemotherapeutic drug cytotoxicity

Nicholas Mitsiades, Wei Hsuan Yu, Vassiliki Poulaki, Maria Tsokos, Ivan Stamenkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

328 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that one mechanism whereby cytotoxic drugs, such as doxorubiein, kill tumors is the induction or up-regulation of Fas ligand (FasL) expression on the tumor cell surface. The ensuing engagement of Fas by FasL on adjacent cells leads to apoptosis. However, despite cytotoxic drug-induced FasL expression, Fas-sensitive tumors frequently resist chemotherapy, suggesting that they may possess a mechanism that prevents or inactivates Fas-FasL interactions, In the present work, we addressed the involvement of the FasL/Fas signaling pathway in doxorubicin-indueed apoptosis and the ability of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) to proteolytically cleave FasL in tumor cells. Doxorubicin-induced apoptosis was inhibited by expression of soluble Fas or incubation of the tumor cells with MMP-7 but not with MMP-2 or MMP-9. Resistance to doxorubicin was also induced by expression in the tumor cells of constitutively active MMP-7 but not of a catalytically inactive mutant. Conversely, inhibition of MMP-7 expression in tumor cells by transfection of MMP-7 cDNA in antisense orientation resulted in sensitization to doxorubicin. MMP-7 efficiently cleaved recombinant FasL in vitro and reduced cell surface FasL expression. Our observations provide evidence that one mechanism whereby MMP-7 may promote tumor survival and resistance to doxorubicin is by cleaving FasL and reducing its effectiveness in triggering Fas-mediated apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-581
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


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