TNF-α drives matrix metalloproteinase-9 in squamous oral carcinogenesis

Laurie Hohberger, Beverly R.K. Wuertz, Hongwei Xie, Tim Griffin, Frank Ondrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: It is well known that invasion is a seminal event in the progression of oral and other head and neck carcinoma sites. We have previously demonstrated tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and its dependent cytokines are upregulated in saliva during oral carcinogenesis. TNF-dependent events stimulate nuclear factor (NF)-κB and many NF-κB-dependent genes are associated with cancer progression. Materials and Methods: In the present study, we examined NF-κB stimulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 in a precancerous keratinocyte cell line that models leukoplakia (Rhek cells). We stimulated Rhek cells with both TNF-α and phorbol myristate acetate, known stimulants of NF-κB. We then assayed MMP-9 transcription and secretion by luciferase reporter genes, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and fluorometric enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay. Results: We discovered that the MMP-9 promoter was significantly stimulated by phorbol myristate acetate and TNF-α on luciferase reporter gene assays. Further, we uncovered that functional MMP-9 promoter activation was accompanied by significant increases in MMP-9 gene expression, as judged by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Functional activation of the MMP-9 protein was stimulated by TNF-α and PMA on a fluorescent enzyme-linked immunosorbent serologic assay. Finally, we searched our salivary proteomic database for increases in MMP-9 and discovered it was the third most significant protein in salivas of oral cavity cancer patients over normal controls. Conclusions: We conclude the milieu cytokine, TNF-a, has the capacity to provide stimulation of events related to early invasion of oral cavity cancer, as judged by its ability to stimulate MMP-9.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1399
Number of pages5
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Invasion
  • Matrix metalloproteinase-9
  • Nuclear factor-κB
  • Squamous cancer


Dive into the research topics of 'TNF-α drives matrix metalloproteinase-9 in squamous oral carcinogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this