The cell surface protease membrane-type serine protease-1 (MT-SP1), also known as matriptase, is often upregulated in epithelial cancers. We hypothesized that dysregulation of MT-SP1 with regard to its cognate inhibitor hepatocyte growth factor activator inhibitor-1 (HAI-1), a situation that increases proteolytic activity, might be exploited for imaging purposes to differentiate malignant from normal tissue. In this study, we show that MT-SP1 is active on cancer cells and that its activity may be targeted in vivo for tumor detection. A proteolytic activity assay with several MT-SP1-positive human cancer cell lines showed that MT-SP1 antibodies that inhibit recombinant enzyme activity in vitro also bind and inhibit the full-length enzyme expressed on cells. In contrast, in the same assay, MT-SP1-negative cancer cell lines were inactive. Fluorescence microscopy confirmed the cell surface localization of labeled antibodies bound to MT-SP1-positive cells. To evaluate in vivo targeting capability, 0.7 to 2 nmoles of fluorescently labeled antibodies were administered to mice bearing tumors that were positive or negative for MT-SP1. Antibodies localized to MT-SP1-positive tumors (n = 3), permitting visualization of MT-SP1 activity, whereas MT-SP1-negative tumors (n = 2) were not visualized. Our findings define MT-SP1 activity as a useful biomarker to visualize epithelial cancers using a noninvasive antibody-based method.
We report an unexpected role for protease signaling in neural tube closure and the formation of the central nervous system. Mouse embryos lacking protease-activated receptors 1 and 2 showed defective hindbrain and posterior neuropore closure and developed exencephaly and spina bifida, important human congenital anomalies. Par1 and Par2 were expressed in surface ectoderm, and Par2 was expressed selectively along the line of closure. Ablation of G(i/z) and Rac1 function in these Par2-expressing cells disrupted neural tube closure, further implicating G protein-coupled receptors and identifying a likely effector pathway. Cluster analysis of protease and Par2 expression patterns revealed a group of membrane-tethered proteases often coexpressed with Par2. Among these, matriptase activated Par2 with picomolar potency, and hepsin and prostasin activated matriptase. Together, our results suggest a role for protease-activated receptor signaling in neural tube closure and identify a local protease network that may trigger Par2 signaling and monitor and regulate epithelial integrity in this context.
We report cadmium-free, biocompatible (Zn)CuInS(2) quantum dots with long fluorescence lifetimes as superior bioimaging probes using time-gated detection to suppress cell autofluorescence and improve the signal : background ratio by an order of magnitude. These results will be important for developing non-toxic fluorescence imaging probes for ultrasensitive biomedical diagnostics.
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