[en] The aim of the work was to analyze, on a comparative basis, the signaling pathways operating in the regulation of a panel of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) expressed by human dermal fibroblasts submitted to mechanical stress relaxation by cytochalasin D (CD) and in a retracting collagen gel (RCG). The mRNA steady-state level of MMPs was measured by a quantitative RT-PCR procedure using a synthetic RNA as internal standard. In monolayer, most MMPs were barely detected, except MMP-2. Disruption of the actin stress fibers by CD induced a moderate increase of MMP-2 mRNA and a much larger stimulation of MMP-3, -9, -13 and -14 mRNAs. In RCG, a significant up-regulation of these MMPs was also observed although to a lower extent than in CD-treated monolayers. Among the investigated MMPs, the MMP-8 and -11 were not reproducibly detected. MMP-2 was processed to its active form both by CD and in RCG. The CD-induced up-regulation of gene expression was largely repressed by blocking protein synthesis by cycloheximide for all the MMPs, by inhibiting the tyrosine-kinases of the src family by herbimycin A for all MMPs, except MMP-2, and by inhibiting the TPA-inducible PKC isoforms by bisindoyl maleimide for all MMPs, except MMP-14. The up-regulation induced by stress relaxation in RCG was protein synthesis-dependent for MMP-2 and MMP-13, tyrosine kinases-dependent for MMP-3 and MMP-13, as previously described for MMP-1. Inhibiting TPA-inducible PKC did not affect any MMP in RCG except MMP-13, which was strongly induced. The processing of MMP-2 was tyrosine kinases-dependent but PKC-independent. Inhibitors of the ERK1,2 and p38 MAP kinases pathways diversely affected the MMPs expression. Inhibiting the Rho-kinase activity by Y-27632 was inactive. These results point to the potent regulation operated by the status of the cytoskeleton on the cell phenotype, and to distinct regulatory pathways involved in the control of different MMPs expression.