Patterns of matrix metalloproteinase expression in cycling endometrium imply differential functions and regulation by steroid hormones.


Matrix metalloproteinases are a highly regulated family of enzymes, that together can degrade most components of the extracellular matrix. These proteins are active in normal and pathological processes involving tissue remodeling; however, their sites of synthesis and specific roles are poorly understood. Using in situ hybridization, we determined cellular distributions of matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1, an inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases, in endometrium during the reproductive cycle. The mRNAs for all the metalloproteinases were detected in menstrual endometrium, but with different tissue distributions. The mRNA for matrilysin was localized to epithelium, while the others were detected in stromal cells. Only the transcripts for the 72-kD gelatinase and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 were detected throughout the cycle. Transcripts for stromelysin-2 and the 92-kD gelatinase were only detected in late secretory and menstrual endometrium, while those for matrilysin, the 72-kD gelatinase, and stromelysin-3 were also consistently detected in proliferative endometrium. These data indicate that matrix metalloproteinases are expressed in cell-type, tissue, and reproductive cycle-specific patterns, consistent with regulation by steroid hormones, and with specific roles in the complex tissue growth and remodeling processes occurring in the endometrium during the reproductive cycle.