Multidimensional degradomics identifies systemic autoantigens and intracellular matrix proteins as novel gelatinase B/MMP-9 substrates

Integr Biol (Camb). 2009 Jun;1(5-6):404-26. doi: 10.1039/b904701h. Epub 2009 May 12.


The action radius of matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs is not restricted to massive extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation, it extends to the proteolysis of numerous secreted and membrane-bound proteins. Although many instances exist in which cells disintegrate, often in conjunction with induction of MMPs, the intracellular MMP substrate repertoire or degradome remains relatively unexplored. We started an unbiased exploration of the proteolytic modification of intracellular proteins by MMPs, using gelatinase B/MMP-9 as a model enzyme. To this end, multidimensional degradomics technology was developed by the integration of broadly available biotechniques. In this way, 100-200 MMP-9 candidate substrates were isolated, of which 69 were identified. Integration of these results with the known biological functions of the substrates revealed many novel MMP-9 substrates from the intracellular matrix (ICM), such as actin, tubulin, gelsolin, moesin, ezrin, Arp2/3 complex subunits, filamin B and stathmin. About 2/3 of the identified candidates were autoantigens described in multiple autoimmune conditions and in cancer (e.g. annexin I, nucleolin, citrate synthase, HMGB1, alpha-enolase, histidyl-tRNA synthetase, HSP27, HSC70, HSP90, snRNP D3). These findings led to the insight that MMPs and other proteases may have novel (immuno)regulatory properties by the clearance of toxic and immunogenic burdens of abundant ICM proteins released after extensive necrosis. In line with the extracellular processing of organ-specific autoantigens, proteolysis might also assist in the generation of immunodominant 'neo-epitopes' from systemic autoantigens. The study of proteolysis of ICM molecules, autoantigens, alarmins and other crucial intracellular molecules may result in the discovery of novel roles for proteolytic modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoantigens / chemistry*
  • Autoantigens / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / chemistry*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / chemistry*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Proteomics / methods*


  • Autoantigens
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9