Matrix metalloproteinase-7 modulates synaptic vesicle recycling and induces atrophy of neuronal synapses

A. Szklarczyk, K. Conant, D. F. Owens, R. Ravin, R. D. McKay, C. Gerfen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) belongs to a family of zinc dependent endopeptidases that are expressed in a variety of tissues including the brain. MMPs are known to be potent mediators of pericellular proteolysis and likely mediators of dynamic remodelling of neuronal connections. While an association between proteases and the neuronal synapse is emerging, a full understanding of this relationship is lacking. Here, we show that MMP-7 alters the structure and function of presynaptic terminals without affecting neuronal survival. Bath application of recombinant MMP-7 to cultured rat neurons induced long-lasting inhibition of vesicular recycling as measured by synaptotagmin 1 antibody uptake assays and FM4-64 optical imaging. MMP-7 application resulted in reduced abundance of vesicular and active zone proteins locally within synaptic terminals although their general levels remained unaltered. Finally, chronic application of the protease resulted in synaptic atrophy, including smaller terminals and fewer synaptic vesicles, as determined by electron microscopy. Together these results suggest that MMP-7 is a potent modulator of synaptic vesicle recycling and synaptic ultrastructure and that elevated levels of the enzyme, as may occur with brain inflammation, may adversely influence neurotransmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-98
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 12 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • SNAP-25
  • neurotransmission
  • proteolysis
  • strength
  • synapse disassembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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