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It is well established that the expression profiles of multiple and possibly redundant matrix-remodeling proteases (e.g., collagenases) differ strongly in health, disease, and development. Although enzymatic redundancy might be inferred from their close similarity in structure, their in vivo activity can lead to extremely diverse tissue-remodeling outcomes. We observed that proteolysis of collagen-rich natural extracellular matrix (ECM), performed uniquely by individual homologous proteases, leads to distinct events that eventually affect overall ECM morphology, viscoelastic properties, and molecular composition. We revealed striking differences in the motility and signaling patterns, morphology, and gene-expression profiles of cells interacting with natural collagen-rich ECM degraded by different collagenases. Thus, in contrast to previous notions, matrix-remodeling systems are not redundant and give rise to precise ECM-cell crosstalk. Because ECM proteolysis is an abundant biochemical process that is critical for tissue homoeostasis, these results improve our fundamental understanding its complexity and its impact on cell behavior.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





10884 - 10889


ECM, MMP, proteolysis, Animals, Cell-Matrix Junctions, Collagen, Elasticity, Extracellular Matrix, Fibroblasts, Humans, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Matrix Metalloproteinase 1, Matrix Metalloproteinase 13, Principal Component Analysis, Proteolysis, Rats, Rheology, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Viscosity