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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 971409, 12 pages
Research Article

Neutrophil Cathepsin G, but Not Elastase, Induces Aggregation of MCF-7 Mammary Carcinoma Cells by a Protease Activity-Dependent Cell-Oriented Mechanism

Laboratory of Host Defense, Department of Pharma-Sciences, Teikyo University, 2-11-1 Kaga, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8605, Japan

Received 3 September 2013; Revised 20 December 2013; Accepted 7 February 2014; Published 2 April 2014

Academic Editor: Simi Ali

Copyright © 2014 Satoru Yui et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We previously found that a neutrophil serine protease, cathepsin G, weakens adherence to culture substrates and induces E-cadherin-dependent aggregation of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells through its protease activity. In this study, we examined whether aggregation is caused by degradation of adhesion molecules on the culture substrates or through an unidentified mechanism. We compared the effect of treatment with cathepsin G and other proteases, including neutrophil elastase against fibronectin- (FN-) coated substrates. Cathepsin G and elastase potently degraded FN on the substrates and induced aggregation of MCF-7 cells that had been subsequently seeded onto the substrate. However, substrate-bound cathepsin G and elastase may have caused cell aggregation. After inhibiting the proteases on the culture substrates using the irreversible inhibitor phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF), we examined whether aggregation of MCF-7 cells was suppressed. PMSF attenuated cell aggregation on cathepsin G-treated substrates, but the effect was weak in cells pretreated with high concentrations of cathepsin G. In contrast, PMSF did not suppress cell aggregation on elastase-treated FN. Moreover, cathepsin G, but not elastase, induced aggregation on poly-L-lysine substrates which are not decomposed by these enzymes, and the action of cathepsin G was nearly completely attenuated by PMSF. These results suggest that cathepsin G induces MCF-7 aggregation through a cell-oriented mechanism.