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The precursor of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (pro-MMP-9) forms a complex with the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 through the C-terminal domain of each molecule, and the N-terminal domain of TIMP-1 in the complex interacts and inhibits active MMPs. We have reported that a catalytic amount of MMP-3 (stromelysin 1) activates pro-MMP-9 (Ogata, Y., Enghild, J. J., and Nagase, H. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 3581-3584). To activate pro-MMP-9 in the complex, however, an excess molar amount of MMP-3 is required to saturate the TIMP-1 in the complex. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the requirement for excess MMP-3 can be circumvented by specific destruction of TIMP-1 by non-target proteinases. We have tested trypsin, plasmin, cathepsin G, neutrophil elastase, and chymotrypsin as possible inactivators of TIMP-1 and found that neutrophil elastase inactivates TIMP-1 in the complex without significant destruction of pro-MMP-9. Once TIMP-1 is inactivated, pro-MMP-9 can be readily activated by a catalytic amount of MMP-3. These results suggest that neutrophil elastase may participate in the connective tissue destruction at the inflammatory sites not only by its direct action on matrix macromolecules but also by rendering pro-MMP-9 in the pro-MMP-9.TIMP-1 complex activable by MMP-3 as well as activating pro-MMP-3.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





16518 - 16521


Cells, Cultured, Collagenases, Enzyme Activation, Enzyme Precursors, Glycoproteins, Humans, Leukocyte Elastase, Matrix Metalloproteinase 3, Matrix Metalloproteinase 9, Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors, Metalloendopeptidases, Pancreatic Elastase, Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases