Cell surface collagenolysis requires homodimerization of the membrane-bound collagenase MT1-MMP.
Itoh Y., Ito N., Nagase H., Evans RD., Bird SA., Seiki M.
Pericellular degradation of interstitial collagens is a crucial event for cells to migrate through the dense connective tissue matrices, where collagens exist as insoluble fibers. A key proteinase that participates in this process is considered to be membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP or MMP-14), but little is known about the mechanism by which it cleaves the insoluble collagen. Here we report that homodimerization of MT1-MMP through its hemopexin (Hpx) domain is essential for cleaving type I collagen fibers at the cell surface. When dimerization was blocked by coexpressing either a membrane-bound or a soluble form of the Hpx domain, cell surface collagenolytic activity was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. When MMP-13, a soluble collagenase active as a monomer in solution, was expressed as a membrane-anchored form on the cell surface, homodimerization was also required to cleave collagen. Our results introduce a new concept in that pericellular collagenolysis is regulated by correct molecular assembly of the membrane-anchored collagenase, thereby governing the directionality of the cell to migrate in tissue.