[en] Membrane-type matrix metalloproteinases (MT-MMPs) have attracted strong attention, because four of them can activate a key player in the tumor scenario, proMMP-2/progelatinase A. In addition to this indirect effect on the cellular environment, these MT-MMPs degrade extracellular matrix proteins, and their overproduction is associated with tumor growth. We have solved the structure of the catalytic domain (cd) of MT3-MMP/MMP-16 in complex with the hydroxamic acid inhibitor batimastat. CdMT3-MMP exhibits a classical MMP-fold with similarity to MT1-MMP. Nevertheless, it also shows unique properties such as a modified MT-specific loop and a closed S1' specificity pocket, which might help to design specific inhibitors. Some MT-MMP-specific features, derived from the crystal structures of MT-1-MMP determined previously and MT3-MMP, and revealed in recent mutagenesis experiments, explain the impaired interaction of the MT-MMPs with TIMP-1. Docking experiments with proMMP-2 show some exposed loops including the MT-loop of cdMT3-MMP involved in the interaction with the proMMP-2 prodomain in the activation encounter complex. This model might help to understand the experimentally proven importance of the MT-loop for the activation of proMMP-2. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.