Secreted and cell-surface proteases are major mediators of extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover, but their mechanisms and regulatory impact are poorly understood. We developed a mass spectrometry approach using a cell-free ECM produced in vitro to identify fibronectin (FN) as a novel substrate of the secreted metalloprotease ADAMTS16. ADAMTS16 cleaves FN between its (I)5 and (I)6 modules, releasing the N-terminal 30 kDa heparin-binding domain essential for FN self-assembly. ADAMTS16 impairs FN fibrillogenesis as well as fibrillin-1 and tenascin-C assembly, thus inhibiting formation of a mature ECM by cultured fibroblasts. Furthermore ADAMTS16 has a marked morphogenetic impact on spheroid formation by renal tubule-derived MDCKI cells. The N-terminal FN domain released by ADAMTS16 up-regulates MMP3, which cleaves the (I)5-(I)6 linker of FN similar to ADAMTS16, therefore creating a proteolytic feed-forward mechanism. Thus, FN proteolysis not only regulates FN turnover, but also FN assembly, with potential long-term consequences for ECM assembly and morphogenesis.
Keywords: ADAMTS protease; Extracellular matrix*; Fibronectin; Metalloprotease; Post-translational modifications*; Proteases*; Protein Degradation*; Proteolysis*.
© 2018 Schnellmann et al.