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Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play key roles in the turnover of extracellular matrix (ECM) and, thereby, function as key regulators of cell-ECM interactions during development. In spite of their importance during developmental processes, relatively little has been reported about the role of these metalloproteinases during limb development and regeneration. To approach the problem of cell-ECM interactions during limb (fin) regeneration, we have utilized zebrafish as an experimental model. Based on previous MMP cloning studies from our laboratory, the current study has focused on the expression of membrane-type 1 metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), gelatinase A (MMP-2) and endogenous tissue inhibitor 2 of metalloproteinases (TIMP-2) during fin regeneration in adult zebrafish. In situ analysis indicated co-expression of zmt1-mmp, zmmp-2, and ztimp-2 mRNA transcripts in regenerating caudal fins. In situ gelatin-zymography confirmed the presence of active metalloproteinases in regenerating fins. zmt1-mmp, zmmp-2, and ztimp-2 mRNA transcripts were expressed in the blastema and basal epithelium during caudal fin regeneration while expression of type IV collagen [zcol-IV(a5)] transcripts (a basal lamina component) was restricted to the basal epithelium. Fin outgrowth was greatly reduced in the presence of GM6001 (an inhibitor of MMP activity) indicating the importance of these enzymes during fin regeneration. Previous studies by Itoh (EMBO, 2001) indicated that expression of a vertebrate MT1-MMP construct containing only the hemopexin-transmembrane-cytoplasmic domains (MT1HPX) resulted in blockage of MT1-MMP homophilic complex formation and subsequent inhibition of pro-MMP-2 activation. Interference with homophilic complex formation was attributed to expression of the hemopexin domain at the cell surface. Building upon these earlier findings, the current study found that ectopic expression of MT1HPX in fin regenerates inhibited the regeneration process and resulted in a reduction in cell proliferation in the blastema. Taken together, these results indicate that MMPs have an important role during fin regeneration in zebrafish.

Original publication




Journal article


Matrix biol

Publication Date





247 - 260


Animals, COS Cells, Cell Proliferation, Chlorocebus aethiops, Dipeptides, Enzyme Inhibitors, Epithelium, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, Hemopexin, Matrix Metalloproteinase 2, Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors, Matrix Metalloproteinases, Membrane-Associated, Metalloendopeptidases, RNA, Messenger, Regeneration, Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2, Zebrafish