Noncanonical activation of Notch1 protein by Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) controls melanoma cell proliferation

Jun Ma, Xiaoying Tang, Poki Wong, Barbara Jacobs, Ernest C. Borden, Barbara Bedogni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Notch1 is an evolutionarily conserved signaling molecule required for stem cell maintenance that is inappropriately reactivated in several cancers. We have previously shown that melanomas reactivate Notch1 and require its function for growth and survival. However, no Notch1-activating mutations have been observed in melanoma, suggesting the involvement of other activating mechanisms. Notch1 activation requires two cleavage steps: first by a protease and then by γ-secretase, which releases the active intracellular domain (Notch1 NIC). Interestingly, although ADAM10 and -17 are generally accepted as the proteases responsible of Notch1 cleavage, here we show that MT1-MMP, a membrane-tethered matrix metalloproteinase involved in the pathogenesis of a number of tumors, is a novel protease required for the cleavage of Notch1 in melanoma cells. We find that active Notch1 and MT1-MMP expression correlate significantly in over 70% of melanoma tumors and 80% of melanoma cell lines, whereas such correlation does not exist between Notch1NIC and ADAM10 or -17. Modulation of MT1-MMP expression in melanoma cells affects Notch1 cleavage, whereas MT1-MMP expression in ADAM10/17 double knockout fibroblasts restores the processing of Notch1, indicating that MT1-MMP is sufficient to promote Notch1 activation independently of the canonical proteases. Importantly, we find that MT1-MMP interacts with Notch1 at the cell membrane, supporting a potential direct cleavage mechanism of MT1-MMP on Notch1, and that MT1-MMP-dependent activation of Notch1 sustains melanoma cell growth. Together, the data highlight a novel mechanism of activation of Notch1 in melanoma cells and identify Notch1 as a new MT1-MMP substrate that plays important biological roles in melanoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8442-8449
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 21 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Noncanonical activation of Notch1 protein by Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) controls melanoma cell proliferation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this