• skin cancer;
  • keratinocyte;
  • wound healing;
  • tumor necrosis factor-α


MMP-19 (also designated RASI) is a recently discovered member of a large family of zinc-dependent proteolytic enzymes, most of which have been implicated in cancer growth and metastasis. It differs from the others by its chromosomal location and structure and is expressed by endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells in vivo. Our aim was to study the putative role of MMP-19 in skin cancer. We also examined its regulation in keratinocyte cultures using quantitative TaqMan RT-PCR. Our results show that MMP-19 can also be detected in stimulated keratinocytes by Northern and Western analyses. In wounds, it was found in keratinocytes outside the migrating area, while in BCC and SCC, it was present in the hyperproliferative (p63-positive), E-cadherin-negative epidermis at the tumor surface but downregulated in invasive cancer islands. Expression was also evident in endothelial cells of neoangiogenic regions and in occasional stromal fibroblasts. Of the 12 tested cytokines/growth factors, only TNF-α and PMA were able to stimulate the expression of MMP-19 mRNA in primary keratinocytes. No MMP-19 mRNA was detected by Northern analysis in cultured HaCaT or A5 cells or in an SCC cell line established from head-and-neck cancer. Our data suggest that, unlike most MMPs, MMP-19 expression in the epidermis is downregulated during transformation and histologic dedifferentiation. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.