The expression of type IV collagenase (Mr 72,000) has been examined in tissues from patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (6 patients) and varying Gleason grades of malignant prostate cancer (18 patients). Immunoperoxidase labeling indicated that expression of the type IV collagenase was weak or nonexistent in benign tissue but consistently strong in the glandular and ductal epithelial cells of prostate tumors diagnosed at Gleason grades 1–8. In moderate to advanced cancer (i.e., Gleason grades 2 to 8), invasive tumor foci in the stromal tissue produced relatively modest amounts of type IV collagenase. The normal stromal tissue (i.e., fibroblasts) uniformly failed to produce detectable levels of type IV collagenase in the 24 patients examined. Northern and quantitative slot blot hybridization assays demonstrated that collagenase type IV mRNA levels were low in benign tissue and high in malignant tumors. In contrast, the stromal cells did not express significant amounts of type IV collagenase mRNA. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays demonstrated that the amounts of type IV collagenase protein correlated directly with the mRNA levels in the tumor tissue. The studies suggest that type IV collagenase may be selectively overexpressed by malignant, preinvasive prostatic epithelial cells.

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Supported by NIH Grant CA58716 to M. E. S.

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