Tight junction protein claudin-1 enhances the invasive activity of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells by promoting cleavage of laminin-5 gamma2 chain via matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and membrane-type MMP-1.Cancer Res 2006; 66(10):5251-7CR
Although adherent junctions have been extensively studied, the role of tight junctions in cancer cell invasion is not sufficiently explored. We investigated whether claudin-1, a component of tight junctions, regulated invasion activity in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSC) cells. The expression of claudin-1, activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, and cleavage of laminin-5 gamma2 chains were assessed by Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, and zymography in OSC cell lines (OSC-4 and NOS-2, highly invasive; OSC-7, weakly invasive) and their xenografts in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. The influence of claudin-1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) on the invasion activity of the cell lines was also investigated. Compared with OSC-7, both OSC-4 and NOS-2 more strongly expressed claudin-1 and possessed high activities of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Tumors formed in the tongues of SCID mice xenografted with OSC-4, NOS-2, and OSC-7 immunohistochemically revealed strong, moderate, and weak expression of laminin-5 gamma2 chains, respectively, and laminin-5 gamma2 chains were secreted in the conditioned medium of the cancer cells in parallel with the in vivo results. Claudin-1 siRNA largely suppressed the invasion of OSC-4 and decreased the activation of MMP-2, the expression of membrane-type MMP-1 (MT1-MMP), and the cleavage of laminin-5 gamma2. In addition, not only antibodies against MT1-MMP and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) but also MMP-2 and EGFR inhibitors strongly suppressed the invasion activity of OSC-4. These results suggest that claudin-1 up-regulates cancer cell invasion activity through activation of MT1-MMP and MMP-2, which results in enhanced cleavage of laminin-5 gamma2 chains.