Converting a broad matrix metalloproteinase family inhibitor into a specific inhibitor of MMP-9 and MMP-14

Jason Shirian, Valeria Arkadash, Itay Cohen, Tamila Sapir, Evette S. Radisky, Niv Papo*, Julia M. Shifman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


MMP-14 and MMP-9 are two well-established cancer targets for which no specific clinically relevant inhibitor is available. Using a powerful combination of computational design and yeast surface display technology, we engineered such an inhibitor starting from a nonspecific MMP inhibitor, N-TIMP2. The engineered purified N-TIMP2 variants showed enhanced specificity toward MMP-14 and MMP-9 relative to a panel of off-target MMPs. MMP-specific N-TIMP2 sequence signatures were obtained that could be understood from the structural perspective of MMP/N-TIMP2 interactions. Our MMP-9 inhibitor exhibited 1000-fold preference for MMP-9 vs. MMP-14, which is likely to translate into significant differences under physiological conditions. Our results provide new insights regarding evolution of promiscuous proteins and optimization strategies for design of inhibitors with single-target specificities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1122-1134
Number of pages13
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Federation of European Biochemical Societies


  • binding specificity
  • matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors
  • protein engineering
  • protein–protein interactions


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