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Front Biosci. 2006 May 1;11:1696-701.

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in health and disease: an overview.

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Division of Rheumatic Diseases, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are members of an enzyme family that require a zinc ion in their active site for catalytic activity. MMPs are critical for maintaining tissue allostasis. MMPs are active at neutral pH and can therefore catalyze the normal turnover of extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules such as the interstitial and basement membrane collagens, proteoglycans such as aggrecan, decorin, biglycan, fibromodulin and versican as well as accessory ECM proteins such as fibronectin. Members of the MMP family include the "classical" MMPs, the membrane-bound MMPs (MT-MMPs) the ADAMs (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase; adamlysins) and the ADAMTS (a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motif). There are more than 20 members in the MMP and ADAMTS family including the collagenases, gelatinases, stromelysins, some elastases and aggrecanases. Adamlysins are membrane-bound MMPs that also degrade aggrecan, but more importantly, one ADAM family member (i.e.ADAM-17) is a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-converting enzyme (TACE) that activates pro-TNF-alpha. Most of the MMPs are synthesized as inactive latent enzymes. Conversion to the active enzyme is generally mediated by activator systems that include plasminogen activator or the pro-hormone convertase, furin. MMP activity is regulated by a group of endogenous proteins, called, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) that bind to active and alternative sites of the activated MMP. Significant advances have occurred in the understanding of the regulation of MMPs, ADAMs and ADAMTSs gene expression. In addition, development of MMP inhibitors to study MMP structure/function relationships spawned many studies to determine the effectiveness of MMP inhibitors in regulating abnormal connective tissue turnover. In addition, development of MMP null mice carrying specific MMP deletions has provided an opportunity to explore the role of MMPs in normal development as well as in such diverse conditions and diseases as skeletal dysplasias, coronary artery and heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and brain disorders.

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