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Localization of membrane type I matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) to the leading edge is thought to be a crucial step during cancer cell invasion. However, its mechanisms and functional impact on cellular invasion have not been clearly defined. In this report, we have identified the MT-LOOP, a loop region in the catalytic domain of MT1-MMP ((163)PYAYIREG(170)), as an essential region for MT1-MMP to promote cellular invasion. Deletion of the MT-LOOP effectively inhibited functions of MT1-MMP on the cell surface, including proMMP-2 activation, degradation of gelatin and collagen films, and cellular invasion into a collagen matrix. This is not due to loss of the catalytic function of MT1-MMP but due to inefficient localization of the enzyme to β1-integrin-rich cell adhesion complexes at the plasma membrane. We also found that an antibody that specifically recognizes the MT-LOOP region of MT1-MMP (LOOPAb) inhibited MT1-MMP functions, fully mimicking the phenotype of the MT-LOOP deletion mutant. We therefore propose that the MT-LOOP region is an interface for molecular interactions that mediate enzyme localization to cell adhesion complexes and regulate MT1-MMP functions. Our findings have revealed a novel mechanism regulating MT1-MMP during cellular invasion and have identified the MT-LOOP as a potential exosite target region to develop selective MT1-MMP inhibitors.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of biological chemistry

Publication Date





35126 - 35137


From the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Headington, Oxford OX3 7FY, United Kingdom.


COS Cells, Hela Cells, Extracellular Matrix, Animals, Cercopithecus aethiops, Humans, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Enzyme Precursors, Gelatinases, Recombinant Proteins, Cell Adhesion, Sequence Deletion, Amino Acid Sequence, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Models, Biological, Matrix Metalloproteinase 14