(Cancer Sci 2010; 101: 759–766)
Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, the 92-kDa type IV collagenase, contributes to tumor invasion and metastases, and strategies to down-regulate its expression could ultimately be of clinical utility. A pyrrole-imidazole (PI) polyamide that targets the activator protein-1 (AP-1)-binding site of the MMP-9 promoter was designed and synthesized as a gene-silencing agent for tumor metastases. The synthesized product showed selective DNA binding ability. The MMP-9 PI polyamide significantly inhibited MMP-9’s mRNA expression, protein level, and enzymatic activity in human breast adenocarcinoma cells (MDA-MB-231). Furthermore, the MMP-9 PI polyamide inhibited migration and invasion by in vitro wound-healing and matrigel-invasion assay. The FITC-labeled PI polyamide was localized in nuclei in 45 min of incubation with an MDA-MB-231 cell and remained in the nuclei for up to 96 h after incubation in vitro. It was also quickly localized in the mouse cellular nuclei of many tissues, including liver, kidney, and spleen, after intravenous injection without using any drug-delivery system. Moreover, the polyamide treatment significantly decreased metastasis in a mouse model of liver metastasis. Our results suggest that this PI polyamide, which targets the MMP-9 gene promoter, can be a novel MMP-9 down-regulating molecule for antimetastasis.