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J Biol Chem. 1999 Nov 26;274(48):34260-6.

Membrane type 4 matrix metalloproteinase (MT4-MMP, MMP-17) is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored proteinase.

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Department of Cancer Cell Research, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


Among the five membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases (MT-MMPs), MT1-, MT2-, MT3-, and MT5-MMPs have about a 20-amino acid cytoplasmic tail following the transmembrane domain. In contrast, a putative transmembrane domain of MT4-MMP locates at the very C-terminal end, and the expected cytoplasmic tail is very short or nonexistent. Such sequences often act as a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchoring signal rather than as a transmembrane domain. We thus examined the possibility that MT4-MMP is a GPI-anchored proteinase. Our results showed that [(3)H]ethanolamine, which can be incorporated into the GPI unit, specifically labeled the MT4-MMP C-terminal end in a sequence-dependent manner. In addition, phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C treatment released the MT4-MMP from the surface of transfected cells. These results indicate that MT4-MMP is the first GPI-anchored proteinase in the MMP family. During cultivation of the transfected cells, MT4-MMP appeared to be shed from the cell surface by the action of an endogenous metalloproteinase. GPI anchoring of MT4-MMP on the cell surface indicates a unique biological function and character for this proteinase.

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