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The drastic morphological changes of the tadpole are induced during the climax of anuran metamorphosis, when the concentration of endogenous thyroid hormone is maximal. The tadpole tail, which is twice as long as the body, shortens rapidly and disappears completely in several days. We isolated a cDNA clone, designated as Xl MMP-9TH, similar to the previously reported Xenopus laevis MMP-9 gene, and showed that their Xenopus tropicalis counterparts are located tandemly about 9 kb apart from each other in the genome. The Xenopus MMP-9TH gene was expressed in the regressing tail and gills and the remodeling intestine and central nervous system, and induced in thyroid hormone-treated tail-derived myoblastic cultured cells, while MMP-9 mRNA was detected in embryos. Three thyroid hormone response elements in the distal promoter and the first intron were involved in the upregulation of the Xl MMP-9TH gene by thyroid hormone in transient expression assays, and their relative positions are conserved between X. laevis and X. tropicalis promoters. These data strongly suggest that the MMP-9 gene was duplicated, and differentiated into two genes, one of which was specialized in a common ancestor of X. laevis and X. tropicalis to be expressed in degenerating and remodeling organs as a response to thyroid hormone during metamorphosis.