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Biol Chem. 2003 Jun;384(6):863-72.

Structural basis of the matrix metalloproteinases and their physiological inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Am Klopferspitz 18a, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) constitute a family of multidomain zinc endopeptidases with a metzincin-like catalytic domain, which are involved in extracellular matrix degradation but also in a number of other important biological processes. Under healthy conditions, their proteolytic activity is precisely regulated by their main endogenous protein inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases. Disruption of this balance results in pathophysiological processes such as arthritis, tumor growth and metastasis, rendering the MMPs attractive targets for inhibition therapy. Knowledge of their tertiary structures is crucial for a full understanding of their functional properties and for rational drug design. Since the first appearance of atomic MMP structures in 1994, a large amount of structural information has become available on the catalytic domains of MMPs and their substrate specificity, interaction with synthetic inhibitors and the TIMPs, the domain organization, and on complex formation with other proteins. This review will outline our current structural knowledge of the MMPs and the TIMPs.

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