Homophilic complex formation of MT1-MMP facilitates proMMP-2 activation on the cell surface and promotes tumor cell invasion.
Itoh Y., Takamura A., Ito N., Maru Y., Sato H., Suenaga N., Aoki T., Seiki M.
Activation of proMMP-2 by MT1-MMP is considered to be a critical event in cancer cell invasion. In the activation step, TIMP-2 bound to MT1-MMP on the cell surface acts as a receptor for proMMP-2. Subsequently, adjacent TIMP-2-free MT1-MMP activates the proMMP-2 in the ternary complex. In this study, we demonstrate that MT1-MMP forms a homophilic complex through the hemopexin-like (PEX) domain that acts as a mechanism to keep MT1-MMP molecules close together to facilitate proMMP-2 activation. Deletion of the PEX domain in MT1-MMP, or swapping the domain with the one derived from MT4-MMP, abolished the ability to activate proMMP-2 on the cell surface without affecting the proteolytic activities. In addition, expression of the mutant MT1-MMP lacking the catalytic domain (MT1PEX-F) efficiently inhibited complex formation of the full-length enzymes and activation of pro MMP-2. Furthermore, expression of MT1PEX-F inhibited proMMP-2 activation and Matrigel invasion activity of invasive human fibrosarcoma HT1080 cells. These findings elucidate a new function of the PEX domain: regulating MT1-MMP activity on the cell surface, which accelerates cellular invasiveness in the tissue.