The ability of B16-F10 mouse melanoma cells to cross an amnion basement membrane was determined in the presence of strong inhibitors of both serine and cysteine proteases. The concentrations of inhibitors were at orders of magnitude higher than their Ki values to serine and cysteine proteases implicated in metastasis, thus ensuring a complete inhibition for tumor secreted proteases such as cathepsin B-like proteases, plasminogen activators, and plasmin. Under these conditions of high serine and cysteine protease inhibitor concentrations, no significant decrease in B16-F10 melanoma cell invasion through the amnion was observed. Separate experiments showed that the inhibitors were neither toxic to the cells nor degraded. The results show that neither tumor cell secreted cathepsin B-like proteases nor plasminogen activator have a controlling role in basement membrane crossing in this metastatic model. A possible role for tumor cell membrane proteases in basement membrane invasion, in which the substrates of the protease bind to receptor sites near a membrane associated proteolytic activity, is not eliminated.

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Research support from the National Cancer Institute (Grant CA-43530) (R. M. S.), the Potts Fund (R. M. S.), the Bane Charitable Trust (B. P.), and the USPHS (BRSG Grant 447-31) (B. P.) is gratefully acknowledged.

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