Investigating the enzyme MMP-28

Investigating cancer progression

Autumn 2007

£51,298 and £51,017 to the School of Biological Sciences at UEA for two separate projects to investigate the enzyme MMP-28.
MMPs are enzymes that are capable of degrading the extracellular matrix (an extensive collection of proteins that act mainly as a cell scaffold).  This can allow tumour cells to metastasise (spread).  MMPs may also cut molecules that influence cell growth and function, regulating these processes.  This is likely to be important in cancer progression, and MMPs are known to be involved in this.
A recently identified member of the MMP family, MMP-28, has been identified at increased levels in cancers of the lung, ovary, prostate, breast and oral squamous cells.  It has also been found at increased levels in metastasised cancer cells and there is evidence to suggest it plays a role in cancer development.

Currently it is not known which proteins MMP-28 targets in the body, and one project will investigate this.  Given the association of MMP-28 with cancer development and progression, it is likely that that MMP-28 will degrade or cut proteins specifically associated with cancer. 

Another project will investigate how the amounts of MMP-28 are regulated during cancer cell development.  Of particular interest is the promoter of the MMP-28 gene (the region of DNA that controls whether the gene produces a protein).

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