MT1-matrix Metalloproteinase Directs Arterial Wall Invasion And Neointima Formation By Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells
During pathologic vessel remodeling, vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) embedded within the collagen-rich matrix of the artery wall mobilize uncharacterized proteolytic systems to infiltrate the subendothelial space and generate neointimal lesions. Although the VSMC-derived serine proteinases, plasminogen activator and plasminogen, the cysteine proteinases, cathepsins L, S, and K, and the matrix metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9 have each been linked to pathologic matrix-remodeling states in vitro and in vivo, the role that these or other proteinases play in allowing VSMCs to negotiate the three-dimensional (3-D) cross-linked extracellular matrix of the arterial wall remains undefined. Herein, we demonstrate that VSMCs proteolytically remodel and invade collagenous barriers independently of plasmin, cathepsins L, S, or K, MMP-2, or MMP-9. Instead, we identify the membrane-anchored matrix metalloproteinase, MT1-MMP, as the key pericellular collagenolysin that controls the ability of VSMCs to degrade and infiltrate 3-D barriers of interstitial collagen, including the arterial wall. Furthermore, genetic deletion of the proteinase affords mice with a protected status against neointimal hyperplasia and lumen narrowing in vivo. These studies suggest that therapeutic interventions designed to target MT1-MMP could prove beneficial in a range of human vascular disease states associated with the destructive remodeling of the vessel wall extracellular matrix.