Matrix metalloproteinase 8 as a marker and actor in cancer

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Markku Larmas auditorium (H1091) in Dentopolis (Aapistie 3)

Topic of the dissertation

Matrix metalloproteinase 8 as a marker and actor in cancer

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Krista Juurikka

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Translational Medicine

Subject of study

Cancer biology


Title of Docent Hannu Koistinen, University of Helsinki


Title of Docent Pirjo Åström, University of Oulu

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The use of versatile research tools helped in assessing the role of MMP8 in cancer

By using different research tools we increased the knowledge of the variating role of MMP8 in cancer, its usability as cancer biomarker and clarified the tumor-protective effects of MMP8 in tongue cancer on molecular level.

Cancer is a disease with significant health hazards: approximately 10 million cancer-related deaths occur worldwide every year. Cancer research has unraveled the diverse nature between different cancer types, patients and even within a patient or an individual tumor. Understanding the variating biology is the key in creating biomarkers to detect cancer and discover new targets for cancer drug treatment.

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are enzymes that process various other molecules by cleaving them. Their effects depend on the cleavage target, yet we lack a complete picture of their targets and thus their effects in healthy tissue or pathological conditions. In this study, we focused on one of the MMP family members, matrix metalloproteinase 8 (MMP8), and its role in cancer, especially in tongue cancer. We showed that high expression of MMP8 decreased motility of tongue cancer cells and enhanced their cell-cell adhesion. By utilizing proteomic methods, we discovered 36 novel potential cleavage targets of MMP8 in tongue cancer. We focused on one of them, on anti-adhesive FXYD5 protein, and showed that its cleavage by MMP8 could explain the tumor-protective effects of MMP8 in OTSCC.

Taking advantage of the new tools will help to improve the efficiency and thoroughness of cancer research. By conducting a systematic literature review we showed that the effect of MMP8 on cancer behaviour and usability as a biomarker depends on the cancer type. By utilizing blood samples stored in Biobank Borealis, we showed that delays in logistics and processing lead to blood sample degradation and changes in their MMP8 levels, highlighting the importance of well-documented sample handling.
Last updated: 23.1.2024