Matriptase is a serine protease that is expressed in the epithelial components of essentially all epithelial tissues including the mammary gland. We have shown that in these tissues, Hepatocyte Growth factor Activator Inhibitor-1 (HAI-1), a kunitz-type protease inhibitor, is required for the normal regulation of matriptase expression and activation, and is responsible for inhibiting the enzyme after it becomes activated. We and others have shown that overexpression of matriptase is a marker of poor prognosis in a variety of human cancers, including breast cancer. When overexpressed in the skin of transgenic mice, matriptase has been shown to act as an oncogene - an effect blocked by HAI-1 overexpression. Several substrates activated by matriptase are believed to be involved in carcinogenesis and/or tumor progression, such as Hepatocyte Growth Factor, or Urokinase Plasminogen Activator, however, much remains to be discovered about the role of misregulated matriptase activity in cancer, and the underlying biochemical mechanisms involved. To explore the role of the matriptase/HAI-1 system in the mammary gland we have developed two transgenic mouse models in which we can induce the overexpression of HAI-1 or matriptase in mammary epithelial tissue. Using these models we have shown that altering the matriptase/HAI-1 balance can have a profound effect on mammary gland biology, function, and carcinogenesis. These findings are consistent with our previously published studies analyzing human tumor samples which demonstrated that overexpression of matriptase is associated with poor prognosis in node-negative breast cancer. This proposal will bridge the gap between these two bodies of work by developing an integrated understanding of the role of the matriptase/HAI-1 system in mammary gland biology, carcinogenesis and tumor progression, the biochemical mechanisms involved in these processes, and the clinical implications of their disruption in breast cancer.
In Aim 1 we will use our transgenic systems to study the regulation of normal mammary gland biology, mammary carcinogenesis, and metastatic tumor behavior, by the matriptase/HAI-1 system, and will study the underlying mechanisms involved.
In Aim 2 we will examine the role of hypoxia and aberrant glycosylation in the aberrant regulation of matriptase activity.
In aim 3 we evaluate the clinical importance of our data by integrating the findings of the previous two aims with an analysis of primary human breast tumor samples. We will evaluate the utility of matriptase and HAI-1, alone or in combination with markers of hypoxia or altered glycosylation, as prognostic markers of clinical outcome in breast cancer. We believe that these studies will highlight the importance of the matriptase/HAI-1 system in breast cancer and will provide valuable insights as to how the pathway might be targeted therapeutically.

Public Health Relevance

Overexpression of the serine protease matriptase has been shown to be a marker of poor prognosis in several types of cancer including breast cancer, and in an animal model has been shown to act as an oncogene. Although matriptase is known to activate several proteins thought to play a role in carcinogenesis and tumor progression, much remains to be discovered about the role of this protease in carcinogenesis and the normal development and function of epithelial tissues. This proposal will make use of novel in vivo and in vitro models combined with analysis of clinical materials, to develop an integrated understanding of the role of the matriptase/HAI-1 system in normal mammary gland development, function, carcinogenesis and tumor progression, and will evaluate the utility of matriptase and HAI-1 as markers of breast cancer prognosis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Tumor Progression and Metastasis Study Section (TPM)
Program Officer
Snyderwine, Elizabeth G
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Georgetown University
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Chen, Ya-Wen; Wang, Jehng-Kang; Chou, Fen-Pai et al. (2014) Matriptase regulates proliferation and early, but not terminal, differentiation of human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol 134:405-14
Tsai, C-H; Teng, C-H; Tu, Y-T et al. (2014) HAI-2 suppresses the invasive growth and metastasis of prostate cancer through regulation of matriptase. Oncogene 33:4643-52
Chu, Li-Ling; Xu, Yuan; Yang, Jie-Ru et al. (2014) Human cancer cells retain modest levels of enzymatically active matriptase only in extracellular milieu following induction of zymogen activation. PLoS One 9:e92244
Wang, Jehng-Kang; Teng, I-Jou; Lo, Ting-Jen et al. (2014) Matriptase autoactivation is tightly regulated by the cellular chemical environments. PLoS One 9:e93899
Wu, Bai-Yao; Lee, Shiao-Pieng; Hsiao, Hui-Chung et al. (2014) Matriptase expression and zymogen activation in human pilosebaceous unit. J Histochem Cytochem 62:50-9
Chen, Ya-Wen; Xu, Zhenghong; Baksh, Adrienne N H et al. (2013) Antithrombin regulates matriptase activity involved in plasmin generation, syndecan shedding, and HGF activation in keratinocytes. PLoS One 8:e62826
Johnson, Michael D; Mueller, Susette C (2013) Three dimensional multiphoton imaging of fresh and whole mount developing mouse mammary glands. BMC Cancer 13:373
Chou, Feng-Pai; Chen, Ya-Wen; Zhao, Xianfeng F et al. (2013) Imbalanced matriptase pericellular proteolysis contributes to the pathogenesis of malignant B-cell lymphomas. Am J Pathol 183:1306-17
Xu, Han; Xu, Zhenghong; Tseng, I-Chu et al. (2012) Mechanisms for the control of matriptase activity in the absence of sufficient HAI-1. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 302:C453-62
Chen, Cheng-Jueng; Wu, Bai-Yao; Tsao, Pai-In et al. (2011) Increased matriptase zymogen activation in inflammatory skin disorders. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 300:C406-15

Showing the most recent 10 out of 14 publications