Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) cooperatively degrade all components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Remodeling of ECM during skeletal muscle degeneration and regeneration suggests a tight regulation of matrix-degrading activity during muscle regeneration. In this study, we investigated the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, in normal muscles and their regulation during regeneration process. We further investigated their secretion by C2C12 myogenic cell line. Two models of muscle degeneration-regeneration were used: (1) normal muscles in which necrosis was experimentally induced by cardiotoxin injection; (2) mdx muscles which exhibit recurrent signs of focal myofiber necrosis followed by successful regeneration. MMPs were studied by zymography; their free activity was quantified using 3H-labeled gelatin substrate and mRNA expression was followed by Northern hybridization. Muscle degeneration-regeneration was analyzed by conventional morphological methods and in situ hybridization was performed on muscle sections to identify the cells expressing these MMPs. Results show that MMP-2, but not MMP-9 expression, is constitutive in normal muscles. Upon injury, the active form of MMP-2 is transiently increased, whereas MMP-9 is induced within 24 h and remains present for several days. Quantitative assays of free gelatinolytic activity show a progressive and steady increase that culminates at 7 days postinjury and slowly returns to normal levels. In adult mdx mice, both pro and active forms of MMP-2 and MMP-9 are expressed. Northern blot results support these findings. Zymography of C2C12-conditioned medium shows that myogenic cells produce MMP-2. By in situ hybridization we localized MMP-9 mRNA in inflammatory cells and putative activated satellite cells in injured muscles. Our data allow the correlation of the differential expression of pro and/or active forms of MMP-2 and MMP-9 with different stages of the degeneration-regeneration process: MMP-9 expression is related to the inflammatory response and probably to the activation of satellite cells, whereas MMP-2 activation is concomitant with the regeneration of new myofibers.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.