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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 May;24(5):839-44. Epub 2004 Mar 25.

Cleavage of focal adhesion kinase in vascular smooth muscle cells overexpressing membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases.

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Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Wash 98195-6410, USA.



Membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases (MT-MMPs) were initially identified as cell surface activators of MMP-2 (gelatinase A). We have reported that MT1-MMPs and MT3-MMPs are expressed by activated vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and play a role in the regulation of cell function. Overexpression of MT-MMPs results in cell rounding, decreased adherence, and increased migration. Because integrin-mediated cell adhesion regulates these events, we have investigated the functional relationship between MT-MMPs and focal adhesion assembly.


Using adenoviral vectors we show that overexpression of MT-MMPs reduces the number of focal contacts, whereas the cell surface expression of integrin subunits remains unchanged. The 125-kDa focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is cleaved resulting in a 90-kDa fragment under these conditions, and paxillin is partially dissociated from FAK after its cleavage. Pretreatment of cells with BB94, a synthetic MMP inhibitor, rescues cell adhesion and prevents changes in focal adhesions, supporting a potential role for MT-MMP enzymatic activities.


This study provides the first evidence that MT-MMPs are not only important in matrix degradation but also may affect the function of focal adhesions through FAK cleavage.

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