Enzymatic proteolysis of cell surface proteins and extracellular matrix (ECM) is critical for tissue homeostasis and cell signaling. These proteolytic activities are mediated predominantly by a family of proteases termed matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The growing evidence in recent years that ECM and non-ECM bioactive molecules (e.g., growth factors, cytokines, chemokines, on top of matrikines and matricryptins) have versatile functions redefines our view on the roles matrix remodeling enzymes play in many physiological and pathological processes, and underscores the notion that ECM proteolytic reaction mechanisms represent master switches in the regulation of critical biological processes and govern cell behavior. Accordingly, MMPs are not only responsible for direct degradation of ECM molecules but are also key modulators of cardinal bioactive factors. Many attempts were made to manipulate ECM degradation by targeting MMPs using small peptidic and organic inhibitors. However, due to the high structural homology shared by these enzymes, the majority of the developed compounds are broad-spectrum inhibitors affecting the proteolytic activity of various MMPs and other zinc-related proteases. These inhibitors, in many cases, failed as therapeutic agents, mainly due to the bilateral role of MMPs in pathological conditions such as cancer, in which MMPs have both pro-and anti-tumorigenic effects. Despite the important role of MMPs in many human diseases, none of the broad-range synthetic MMP inhibitors that were designed have successfully passed clinical trials. It appears that, designing highly selective MMP inhibitors that are also effective in vivo, is not trivial. The challenges related to designing selective and effective metalloprotease inhibitors, are associated in part with the aforesaid high structural homology and the dynamic nature of their protein scaffolds. Great progress was achieved in the last decade in understanding the biochemistry and biology of MMPs activity. This knowledge, combined with lessons from the past has drawn new ``boundaries'' for the development of the next-generation MMP inhibitors. These novel agents are currently designed to be highly specific, capable to discriminate between the homologous MMPs and ideally administered as a short-term topical treatment. In this review we discuss the latest progress in the fields of MMP inhibitors in terms of structure, function and their specific activity. The development of novel highly specific inhibitors targeting MMPs paves the path to study complex biological processes associated with ECM proteolysis in health and disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Matrix Metalloproteinases edited by Rafael Fridman.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research|
|State||Published - 1 Nov 2017|