Definition of matrix metalloproteinase

matrix metalloproteinase

(MAY-trix meh-TA-loh-PROH-tee-nays)
A member of a group of enzymes that can break down proteins, such as collagen, that are normally found in the spaces between cells in tissues (i.e., extracellular matrix proteins). Because these enzymes need zinc or calcium atoms to work properly, they are called metalloproteinases. Matrix metalloproteinases are involved in wound healing, angiogenesis, and tumor cell metastasis.

Source: NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms