Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 289–303

Type IV collagenases in tumor invasion and metastasis

  • William G. Stetler-Stevenson

DOI: 10.1007/BF00049520

Cite this article as:
Stetler-Stevenson, W.G. Cancer Metast Rev (1990) 9: 289. doi:10.1007/BF00049520


The invasion and metastasis of cancer cells is a complex multistep process involving destruction of basement membranes as an early event in the metastatic cascade. Recent evidence implicates secreted matrix metalloproteinase enzymes, such as type IV collagenases, as playing a central role in this tumor cell mediated extracellular matrix proteolysis. Two distinct type IV collagenase enzymes are now recognized. Immunohistochemical and biochemical studies of several human tumors show correlations between invasive potential and the 72kDa type IV collagenase enzyme. Studies in rodent tumor models suggest that the 92kDa type IV collagenase may play an important role in these models, but data on human tumors and human tumor tissue is lacking. Evidence suggest that the regulation of the 72kDa type IV collagenase enzyme activity may occur at many levels, including transcriptional mechanisms, extracellular activation of latent enzyme and specific inhibitors of active enzyme. Thus the invasion of human tumor cells through basement membranes may be the result of net type IV collagenolytic activity that is the result of a balance of activated enzyme species and inhibitors.

Key words

collagenase metastasis TIMP invasion 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William G. Stetler-Stevenson
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of PathologyNational Cancer Institute, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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