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Cell. 1998 Oct 30;95(3):365-77.

Matrix metalloproteinases regulate neovascularization by acting as pericellular fibrinolysins.

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Department of Internal Medicine and University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


During angiogenesis, endothelial cells penetrate fibrin barriers via undefined proteolytic mechanisms. We demonstrate that the fibrinolytic plasminogen activator (PA)-plasminogen system is not required for this process, since tissues isolated from PA- or plasminogen-deficient mice successfully neovascularize fibrin gels. By contrast, neovessel formation, in vitro and in vivo, is dependent on fibrinolytic, endothelial cell-derived matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). MMPs directly regulate this process as invasion-incompetent cells penetrate fibrin barriers when transfected with the most potent fibrinolytic metalloproteinase identified in endothelium, membrane type-1 MMP (MT1-MMP). Membrane display of MT1-MMP is required, as invasion-incompetent cells expressing a fibrinolytically active, transmembrane-deleted form of MT1-MMP remain noninvasive. These observations identify a PA-independent fibrinolytic pathway wherein tethered MMPs function as pericellular fibrinolysins during the neovascularization process.

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