We and other researchers have previously found that colony-stimulating factors (CSFs), which generally include granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), promote invasion by lung cancer cells. In the present study, we studied the effects of these CSFs on gelatinase production, urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) production and their activity in human lung cancer cells. Gelatin zymographs of conditioned media derived from human lung adenocarcinoma cell lines revealed two major bands of gelatinase activity at 68 and 92 kDa, which were characterized as matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 respectively. Treatment with CSFs increased the 68- and 92-kDa activity and converted some of a 92-kDa proenzyme to an 82-kDa enzyme that was consistent with an active form of the MMP-9. Plasminogen activator zymographs of the conditioned media from the cancer cells showed that CSF treatment resulted in an increase in a 48-55 kDa plasminogen-dependent gelatinolytic activity that was characterized as human uPA. The conditioned medium from the cancer cells treated with CSFs stimulated the conversion of plasminogen to plasmin, providing a direct demonstration of the ability of enhanced uPA to increase plasmin-dependent proteolysis. The enhanced invasive behaviour of the cancer cells stimulated by CSFs was well correlated with the increase in MMPs and uPA activities. These data suggest that the enhanced production of extracellular matrix-degrading proteinases by the cancer cells in response to CSF treatment may represent a biochemical mechanism which promotes the invasive behaviour of the cancer cells.
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