MT1-MMP and MMP2 have been implicated as pro-tumorigenic and pro-metastatic factors in a wide variety of cancers including melanoma. We have previously demonstrated that MT1-MMP is highly expressed in melanoma where it promotes melanoma cell invasion and metastasis in part through the activation of its target MMP2. Given the accessibility of MMPs, as they are either secreted (e.g. MMP2) or membrane-tethered (e.g. MT1-MMP), they represent ideal targets for specific inhibition via small molecules. Here we show that the novel small-molecule inhibitor ND-322 with high selectivity for MT1-MMP and MMP2, effectively inhibits MT1-MMP and MMP2 activity resulting in reduced in vitro melanoma cell growth, migration and invasion. Importantly, these inhibitory effects lead to significant reduction of melanoma tumor growth and metastasis. We further show that while cell migration and invasion could be similarly hampered by specific inhibition of either MT1-MMP or MMP2 via shRNAs, the growth inhibitory activity of ND-322 could only be mirrored by specific inhibition of MT1-MMP. These data support ND-322 as a novel effective inhibitor capable of counteracting both MT1-MMP and MMP2, two key proteases involved in melanoma growth and metastasis. ND-322 may therefore represent a new inhibitor in the repertoire of treatments against melanoma.
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