Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an early event in cell dissemination from epithelial tissues. EMT endows cells with migratory, and sometimes invasive, capabilities and is thus a key process in embryo morphogenesis and cancer progression. So far, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have not been considered as key players in EMT but rather studied for their role in matrix remodelling in later events such as cell migration per se. Here, we used Xenopus neural crest (NC) cells to assess the role of MMP28 in EMT and migration in vivo. We show that a catalytically active MMP28, expressed by neighbouring placodal cells, is required for NC EMT and cell migration. We provide strong evidence indicating that MMP28 is imported in the nucleus of NC cells where it is required for normal Twist expression. Our data demonstrate that MMP28 can act as an upstream regulator of EMT in vivo raising the possibility that other MMPs might have similar early roles in various EMT-related contexts such as cancer, fibrosis, and wound healing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)