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Apoptosis. 2005 Jan;10(1):19-24.

Multiple roles of matrix metalloproteinases during apoptosis.

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  • 1Istituto di Istologia ed Analisi di Laboratorio, ITOI-CNR, Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy.


Structural, molecular and biochemical approaches have contributed to piecing together the puzzle of how matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) work and contribute to various disease processes. However, MMPs have many unexpected substrates other than components of the extracellular matrix which profoundly influence cell behaviour, survival and death. With the current understanding of diverse/novel roles of matrix metalloproteinases--particularly their direct or indirect relevance for the early steps during programmed cell death--some seemingly contrasting results seem less surprising. To better target MMPs an appreciation of their many extracellular, intracellular and intranuclear functions, often acting in opposing directions with paradoxical roles in cell death, is carefully required.

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