†These authors contributed equally.
Background: The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are zinc-dependent endopeptidases that play a variety of physiological and pathological roles in development, remodeling of tissues and diseases, mainly through degradation of various components of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Particularly, the MMPs have increasingly been found to mediate neuropathology following spinal cord injury (SCI). Proinflammatory mediators are potent activators of the MMPs. However, how the spinal cord regenerative vertebrates circumvent MMPs-mediated neuropathogenesis following SCI remains unclear. Methods: Following the establishment of gecko tail amputation model, the correlation of MMP-1 (gMMP-1) and MMP-3 (gMMP-3) expression with that of macrophage migration inhibitory factor in gecko (gMIF) was assayed by RT-PCR, Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Transcriptome sequencing of primary astrocytes was performed to analyze the intracellular signal transduction of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). The effects of MMP-1 and MMP-3 induced by MIF on astrocyte migration were assessed by transwell migration assay. Results: The expression of gMIF significantly increased at lesion site of the injured cord, in parallel with those of gMMP-1 and gMMP-3 in the gecko astrocytes (gAS). Transcriptome sequencing and in vitro cell model revealed that gMIF efficiently promoted the expression of gMMP-1 and gMMP-3 in gAS, which in turn contributed to the migration of gAS. Inhibition of gMIF activity following gecko SCI remarkably attenuated astrocytic expression of the two MMPs, and further influenced gecko tail regeneration. Conclusions: Gecko SCI following tail amputation promoted production of gMIF, which induced the expression of gMMP-1 and gMMP-3 in gAS. The gMIF-mediated gMMP-1 and gMMP-3 expression was involved in gAS migration and successful tail regeneration.