Recent murine studies have demonstrated that tumour-associated macrophages in the tumour microenvironment are a key source of the pro-tumourigenic cysteine protease, cathepsin S. We now show in a syngeneic colorectal carcinoma murine model that both tumour and tumour-associated cells contribute cathepsin S to promote neovascularisation and tumour growth. Cathepsin S depleted and control colorectal MC38 tumour cell lines were propagated in both wild type C57Bl/6 and cathepsin S null mice to provide stratified depletion of the protease from either the tumour, tumour-associated host cells, or both. Parallel analysis of these conditions showed that deletion of cathepsin S inhibited tumour growth and development, and revealed a clear contribution of both tumour and tumour-associated cell derived cathepsin S. The most significant impact on tumour development was obtained when the protease was depleted from both sources. Further characterisation revealed that the loss of cathepsin S led to impaired tumour vascularisation, which was complemented by a reduction in proliferation and increased apoptosis, consistent with reduced tumour growth. Analysis of cell types showed that in addition to the tumour cells, tumour-associated macrophages and endothelial cells can produce cathepsin S within the microenvironment. Taken together, these findings clearly highlight a manner by which tumour-associated cells can positively contribute to developing tumours and highlight cathepsin S as a therapeutic target in cancer.
- cathepsin S