Objective: To develop enzyme-activatable Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) substrate probes to detect matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP-12) and MMP-13 activities in vivo in mouse models of inflammatory arthritis. Methods: Peptidic FRET probes activated by MMP-12 and MMP-13 were reverse designed from inhibitors selected from a phosphinic peptide inhibitor library. Selectivity of the probes was demonstrated in vitro using MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-12, and MMP-13. In vivo activation of the probes was tested in the zymosan-induced mouse model of inflammation, and probe specificity was evaluated by the MMP inhibitor GM6001 and specific synthetic inhibitors of MMP-12 and MMP-13. The probes were used to monitor these enzyme activities in the collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model in vivo. Results: The MMP-12 and MMP-13 activity probes (MMP12ap and MMP13ap, respectively) discriminated between the activities of the 2 enzymes. The in vivo activation of these probes was inhibited by GM6001 and by their respective specific inhibitors. In the CIA model, MMP12ap activation peaked 5 days after disease onset and showed strong correlation with disease severity during this time (r = 0.85, P < 0.0001). MMP13ap activation increased gradually after disease onset and correlated with disease severity over a longer period of 15 days (r = 0.58, P < 0.0001). Conclusion: We generated two selective FRET probes that can be used to monitor MMP-12 and MMP-13 activities in live animals. MMP12ap follows the initial stage of inflammation in CIA, while MMP13ap follows the progression of the disease. The specificity of these probes is useful in monitoring the efficacy of MMP inhibitors. © 2014, American College of Rheumatology.
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