Matrix Metalloproteinases During Axonal Regeneration, a Multifactorial Role from Start to Finish.Mol Neurobiol. 2017 04; 54(3):2114-2125.MN
By proteolytic cleavage, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) not only remodel the extracellular matrix (ECM) but they also modify the structure and activity of other proteinases, growth factors, signaling molecules, cell surface receptors, etc. Their vast substrate repertoire adds a complex extra dimension of biological control and turns MMPs into important regulatory nodes in the protease web. In the central nervous system (CNS), the detrimental impact of elevated MMP activities has been well-described for traumatic injuries and many neurodegenerative diseases. Nonetheless, there is ample proof corroborating MMPs as fine regulators of CNS physiology, and well-balanced MMP activity is instrumental to development, plasticity, and repair. In this manuscript, we review the emerging evidence for MMPs as beneficial modulators of axonal regeneration in the mammalian CNS. By exploring the multifactorial causes underlying the inability of mature axons to regenerate, and describing how MMPs can help to overcome these hurdles, we emphasize the benign actions of these Janus-faced proteases.