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J Neurosci. 1999 Jun 15;19(12):4994-5004.

Spatiotemporal expression patterns of metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in the postnatal developing rat cerebellum.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U433, Faculté de Médecine Laënnec, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are proteolytic enzymes that degrade the components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The balance between MMPs and their inhibitors [tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs)] in the pericellular environment determines the most significant proteolytic events in tissue remodeling. In vitro evidence is accumulating that these molecules may be crucial in the maturation of neural cells. Here, we investigated the in vivo expression of MMPs 2, 3, and 9 and TIMPs 1, 2, and 3 in the developing and adult rat cerebellum using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. During postnatal development, all Purkinje (PK) cell somata expressed all the MMPs and TIMPs studied, whereas their growing dendritic trees expressed only MMP 3 and TIMP 3. In the adult, MMP 3 was confined to PK cell bodies, whereas TIMP 3 was expressed in PK cell somata and processes. Irrespective of the developmental stage, Bergmann glial processes contained only MMP 9, but their somata contained both TIMP 1 and MMP 9. In granular cells, MMPs 3 and 9 and TIMPs 1, 2, and 3 were chiefly detected at a time when migration is known to be maximal; except for that of TIMP 1, their expression persisted in the internal granular layer in the adult. The functional relevance of MMP expression was verified by gelatin zymography. MMP 9 activity was maximal on postnatal day 10 (P10) and was detectable at a low level on P15 and in the adult, whereas MMP 2 activity remained similar throughout postnatal development. Regional and cell-specific expression of MMPs and TIMPs closely reflects the successive stages of cerebellar development, thereby suggesting a pivotal role for ECM proteolysis in brain development and plasticity.

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