Computational design of matrix metalloprotenaise-9 (MMP-9) resistant to auto-cleavage

Alessandro Bonadio, Solomon Oguche, Tali Lavy, Oded Kleifeld, Julia Shifman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is an endopeptidase that remodels the extracellular matrix. MMP-9 has been implicated in several diseases including neurodegeneration, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, fibrosis and several types of cancer, resulting in a high demand for MMP-9 inhibitors for therapeutic purposes. For such drug design efforts, large amounts of MMP-9 are required. Yet, the catalytic domain of MMP-9 (MMP-9Cat) is an intrinsically unstable enzyme that tends to auto-cleave within minutes, making it difficult to use in drug design experiments and other biophysical studies. We set our goal to design MMP-9Cat variant that is active but stable to auto-cleavage. For this purpose, we first identified potential auto-cleavage sites on MMP-9Cat using mass spectroscopy and then eliminated the auto-cleavage site by predicting mutations that minimize auto-cleavage potential without reducing enzyme stability. Four computationally designed MMP-9Cat variants were experimentally constructed and evaluated for auto-cleavage and enzyme activity. Our best variant, Des2, with 2 mutations, was as active as the wild-type enzyme but did not exhibit auto-cleavage after 7 days of incubation at 37°C. This MMP-9Cat variant, with an identical with MMP-9Cat WT active site, is an ideal candidate for drug design experiments targeting MMP-9 and enzyme crystallization experiments. The developed strategy for MMP-9CAT stabilization could be applied to redesign other proteases to improve their stability for various biotechnological applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1097-1107
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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