The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an essential system that isolates the central nervous system from the internal environment. Increasing evidence has begun to reveal the molecules that are required for BBB integrity. However, how these components are regulated remains unclear. Here we report that a matrix metalloproteinase, Mmp2, is essential for the establishment of the BBB in Drosophila. In the absence of mmp2, the BBB becomes leaky, which allows the tracer to penetrate the brain. Moreover, the expression pattern of a junctional component, Neuroglian, is altered. We also find that the regulation of the amounts of particular extracellular matrix components is critical for BBB establishment. Furthermore, the process of mesenchymal-epithelial transition of BBB-forming cells is perturbed in the absence of Mmp2. These data indicate that the presence of Mmp(s), which is typically considered to be a risk factor for BBB degradation, is essential for BBB integrity in Drosophila.
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