Cytokines and signaling pathways regulating matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) expression in corneal epithelial cellsy

Gabriel M. Gordon, Dolena R. Ledee, William J. Feuer, M. Elizabeth Fini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is a well-known regulator and effecter of many cellular processes including wound healing. In the cornea, either too much or too little MMP-9 can be detrimental to overall wound repair. We investigated the secreted factors as well as the intracellular signaling pathways and the promoter sequences that mediate this regulation. Primary culture rabbit corneal epithelial cells were treated with various cytokines alone or in different combinations and MMP-9 induction was assessed by gel zymography. Pharmacological inhibitors were used to determine the intracellular signaling pathways induced by the cytokines tested and deletion promoter constructs were created to determine the regions of the MMP-9 promoter involved in the cytokine regulation, thereby assessing the exact transcription factors binding the MMP-9 promoter. We found that two cytokine families, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and interleukin 1 (IL-1), act additively in an isoform non-specific manner to induce MMP-9 in this cell type. Our data suggest TGF-β mediated MMP-9 induction may be regulated by the NF-κB, Smad3, and JNK pathways, whereas the IL-1β mediated induction may be regulated by the NF-κB and p38 pathways. Inhibition of the p38, NF-κB, or JNK pathways significantly reduced, but did not abrogate, basal MMP-9 levels. Inhibition of the ERK pathway did not have an effect on MMP-9 mediated expression in either the treated or untreated co-transfected cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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