Degradomics: systems biology of the protease web. Pleiotropic roles of MMPs in cancer

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2006 Mar;25(1):69-75. doi: 10.1007/s10555-006-7890-0.


The major role of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is for homeostatic regulation of the extracellular environment, not simply to degrade matrix as their name suggests. We designed and printed a dedicated, focused DNA microarray, the CLIP-CHIP, that enables the analysis of every human and murine protease, protease homologue and inhibitor on a system-wide basis in cancer. We have also developed novel proteomic approaches to identify cleaved substrates of proteases in complex milieu. Isotope coded affinity tag (ICAT) and iTRAQ labeling of conditioned medium proteins secreted by MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cells and Mmp2 -/- murine fibroblasts transfected with protease (MT1-MMP or active MMP-2) or their inactive mutant forms enabled quantitative proteomics to be performed. Comparison of the relative abundance ratios of identical peptides from the two samples identified proteins in the conditioned medium that may have been degraded (low ratios) and those that were shed from the cell membrane (high ratios). MS/MS was used to sequence and identify the potential substrates. These analyses have revealed a plethora of new bioactive substrates and biological roles for MMPs. Biochemical confirmation of cleavage of the potential substrates was performed and the cleavage sites identified by MALDI-TOF. In these studies we discovered and confirmed that CTGF, galectin-1, death receptor-6, HSP90alpha, procollagen C-proteinase enhancer protein, the chemokine fractalkine, and cystatin C were novel MT1-MMP or MMP-2 substrates. These sophisticated cellular control functions highlight new intervention points in multiple pathways to treat early stage cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Metalloproteases / genetics*
  • Metalloproteases / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Peptide Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Metalloproteases
  • Peptide Hydrolases