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The aim of the present study was to explore the signaling pathways associated with the effect of simvastatin on matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)/MMP-9 expression in human leukemia K562 cells. In sharp contrast to its insignificant effect on MMP-2, simvastatin down-regulated MMP-9 protein expression and mRNA levels in K562 cells. Simvastatin-induced Pin1 down-regulation evoked NFκB/p65 degradation. Meanwhile, simvastatin induced JNK-mediated c-Jun and ATF-2 activation. Over-expression of Pin1 suppressed simvastatin-induced MMP-9 down-regulation. Treatment with SP600125 (a JNK inhibitor) or knock-down of JNK1 reduced MMP-2 expression in simvastatin-treated cells. Simvastatin enhanced the binding of c-Jun/ATF-2 with the MMP-2 promoter. Down-regulation of c-Jun or ATF-2 by siRNA revealed that c-Jun/ATF-2 activation was crucial for MMP-2 expression. Suppression of p65 activation or knock-down of Pin1 by shRNA reduced MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression in K562 cells. Over-expression of constitutively active JNK1 rescued MMP-2 expression in Pin1 shRNA-transfected cells. Simvastatin treatment also suppressed MMP-9 but not MMP-2 expression in human leukemia U937 and KU812 cells. Taken together, our data indicate that simvastatin-induced p65 instability leads to MMP-9 down-regulation in leukemia cells, while simvastatin-induced JNK1/c-Jun/ATF-2 activation maintains the MMP-2 expression underlying p65 down-regulation.