Proteolytic enzymes play important roles during tumor development and progression through their ability to promote cell growth or by facilitating the invasion of surrounding tissues. The human genome contains more than 570 protease-coding genes, many of them forming functional networks, which has forced the use of global strategies for the analysis of this group of enzymes. In this study, we have designed a new quantitative PCR-based device for profiling the entire degradome in human malignancies. We have used this method to evaluate protease expression levels in colorectal carcinomas with the finding that most proteases with altered expression in these tumors exert their function in the extracellular compartment. In addition, we have found that among genes encoding repressed proteases there was a higher proportion with somatic mutations in colorectal cancer when compared to genes coding for upregulated proteases (14% vs. 4%, p<0.05). One of these genes, , is consistently repressed in colorectal carcinomas as well as in colorectal cancer cell lines when compared to normal colonic mucosa. Functional analysis of this gene revealed that ectopic expression of reduces cell proliferation and restrains subcutaneous tumor growth, whereas its downregulation induces an increase in the tumorigenic potential of colorectal cancer cells. These results provide new insights into the diversity of proteases associated with cancer and support the utility of degradome profiling to identify novel proteases with tumor-defying functions.
Copyright: © 2013 Fraile et al.