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Members of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family have been implicated in disease states such as arthritis, periodontal disease, and tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Stromelysin 1 (MMP-3) has a broad substrate specificity and participates in the activation of several MMP zymogens. We examined known sequences of MMP-3 cleavage sites in natural peptides and proteins and compared sequence specificities of MMP-3 and interstitial collagenase (MMP-1) in order to design fluorogenic substrates that (i) would be hydrolyzed rapidly by MMP-3, (ii) would discriminate between MMP-3 and MMP-1, and (iii) could be monitored continuously without interference from MMP amino acid residues. Designed substrates were then screened for activity toward MMP-1, gelatinase A (MMP-2), MMP-3, and gelatinase B (MMP-9). The first of these substrates, NFF-1 (Mca-Pro-Lys-Pro-Gln-Gln-Phe-Phe-Gly-Leu-Lys-(Dnp)-Gly, where Mca is (7-methoxycoumarin-4-yl)acetyl and Dnp is 2,4-dinitrophenyl), was hydrolyzed equally well by MMP-3 and MMP-2 (kcat/Km approximately 11,000 s-1 M-1). MMP-1 had 25% of the activity of MMP-3 toward NFF-1. The second substrate, NFF-2 (Mca-Arg-Pro-Lys-Pro-Tyr-Ala-Nva-Trp-Met-Lys(Dnp)-NH2, where Nva is norvaline), was hydrolyzed 60 times more rapidly by MMP-3 (kcat/Km = 59,400 s-1 M-1) than MMP-1. Unfortunately, NFF-2 showed little discrimination between MMP-3, MMP-2 (kcat/Km = 54,000 s-1 M-1), and MMP-9 (kcat/Km = 55,300 s-1 M-1). The third substrate, NFF-3 (Mca-Arg-Pro-Lys-Pro-Val-Glu-Nva-Trp-Arg-Lys(Dnp)-NH2), was hydrolyzed rapidly by MMP-3 (kcat/Km = 218,000 s-1 M-1) and very slowly by MMP-9 (kcat/Km = 10,100 s-1 M-1), but there was no significant hydrolysis by MMP-1 and MMP-2. NFF-3 is the first documented synthetic substrate hydrolyzed by only certain members of the MMP family and thus has important application for the discrimination of MMP-3 activity from that of other MMPs. Although NFF-3 was designed by assuming that substrate subsites were independent and hence free energy changes derived from single mutation experiments were additive, we found discrepancies between predicted and experimental kcat/Km values, one on the order of 2000-5000. Thus, the design of additional discriminatory MMP substrates may require approaches other than assuming additive free energy changes, such as screening synthetic libraries and consideration of secondary and tertiary structures of substrates and the enzyme.


H Nagase, C G Fields, G B Fields. Design and characterization of a fluorogenic substrate selectively hydrolyzed by stromelysin 1 (matrix metalloproteinase-3). The Journal of biological chemistry. 1994 Aug 19;269(33):20952-7

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PMID: 8063713

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