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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Jan;1824(1):146-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Sep 24.

Regulation of matrix metalloproteinases activity studied in human endometrium as a paradigm of cyclic tissue breakdown and regeneration.

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Cell Biology Unit, de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Bruxelles, Belgium.


When abundant and activated, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs, or matrixins) degrade most, if not all, constituents of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The resulting massive tissue breakdown is best exemplified in humans by the menstrual lysis and shedding of the endometrium, the mucosa lining the uterus. After menstruation, MMP activity needs to be tightly controlled as the endometrium regenerates and differentiates to avoid abnormal tissue breakdown while allowing tissue repair and fine remodelling to accommodate implantation of a blastocyst. This paper reviews how MMPs are massively present and activated in the endometrium at menstruation, and how their activity is tightly controlled at other phases of the cycle. Progesterone represses expression of many but not all MMPs. Its withdrawal triggers focal expression of MMPs specifically in the areas undergoing lysis, an effect mediated by local cytokines such as interleukin-1α, LEFTY-2, tumour necrosis factor-α and others. MMP-3 is selectively expressed at that time and activates proMMP-9, otherwise present in latent form throughout the cycle. In addition, a large number of neutrophils loaded with MMPs are recruited at menstruation through induction of chemokines, such as interleukin-8. At the secretory phase, progesterone repression of MMPs is mediated by transforming growth factor-β. Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are abundant at all phases of the cycle to prevent any undue MMP activity, but are likely overwhelmed at menstruation. At other phases of the cycle, MMPs can elude TIMP inhibition as exemplified by recruitment of active MMP-7 to the plasma membrane of epithelial cells, allowing processing of membrane-associated growth factors needed for epithelial repair and proliferation. Finally, receptor-mediated endocytosis through low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-1 (LRP-1) efficiently clears MMP-2 and -9 at the proliferative and secretory phases. This mechanism is probably essential to prevent any excessive ECM degradation by the active form of MMP-2 that is permanently present. However, shedding of the ectodomain of LRP-1 specifically at menstruation prevents endocytosis of MMPs allowing full degradation of the ECM. Thus endometrial MMPs are regulated at the levels of transcription, release from infiltrating neutrophils, activation, binding to the cell membrane, inhibition by TIMPs and endocytic clearance by LRP-1. This allows tight control during endometrial growth and differentiation but results in a burst of activity for menstrual tissue breakdown. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Proteolysis 50 years after the discovery of lysosome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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