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Multifunctional bioscaffolds for 3D culture of melanoma cells reveal increased MMP activity and migration with BRAF kinase inhibition

Leight, Jennifer L., Tokuda, Emi Y., Jones, Caitlin E., Lin, Austin J., Anseth, Kristi S.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2015 v.112 no.17 pp. 5366-5371
cell movement, drug therapy, extracellular matrix, melanoma, metalloproteinases, metastasis, patients, shrinkage
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are important for many different types of cancer-related processes, including metastasis. Understanding the functional impact of changes in MMP activity during cancer treatment is an important facet not typically evaluated as part of preclinical research. With MMP activity being a critical component of the metastatic cascade, we designed a 3D hydrogel system to probe whether pharmacological inhibition affected human melanoma cell proteolytic activity; metastatic melanoma is a highly aggressive and drug-resistant form of skin cancer. The relationship between MMP activity and drug treatment is unknown, and therefore we used an in situ fluorogenic MMP sensor peptide to determine how drug treatment affects melanoma cell MMP activity in three dimensions. We encapsulated melanoma cells from varying stages of progression within PEG-based hydrogels to examine the relationship between drug treatment and MMP activity. From these results, a metastatic melanoma cell line (A375) and two inhibitors that inhibit RAF (PLX4032 and sorafenib) were studied further to determine whether changes in MMP activity led to a functional change in cell behavior. A375 cells exhibited increased MMP activity despite an overall decrease in metabolic activity with PLX4032 treatment. The changes in proteolytic activity correlated with increased cell elongation and increased single-cell migration. In contrast, sorafenib did not alter MMP activity or cell motility, showing that the changes induced by PLX4032 were not a universal response to small-molecule inhibition. Therefore, we argue the importance of studying MMP activity with drug treatment and its possible implications for unwanted side effects.