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Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-7 binds to cell surface cholesterol sulfate (CS) and acts as a membrane-associated protease. We have previously found that CS modulates the substrate preference of MMP-7, thereby regulating its pericellular proteolytic action. MMP-7 potentially associates with the cell surface via sulfatide (SM4) and cardiolipin (CL) when they are overexpressed on the cell surface. Here, we investigated the molecular interaction between these acidic lipids and MMP-7 or its substrates, and their effects on the activity of MMP-7. Studies using MMP-7 variants with low CS-binding ability suggested that these lipids interact with a similar site on MMP-7. The hydroxamate-based MMP inhibitor TAPI-1 markedly reduced the affinity of MMP-7 for CS and CL, whereas that for SM4 was not affected by TAPI-1. These three acidic lipids also had different effects on the hydrolytic activity of MMP-7 towards a small peptide substrate: SM4, CL and CS reduced the activity to 80%, 92%, and 20%, respectively. Nevertheless, SM4 and CS similarly accelerated the MMP-7-catalyzed degradation of fibronectin and laminin-332, whereas CL did not. The increased proteolysis of substrate was observed only when both substrate and enzyme had affinity for the lipid, suggesting that the lipids probably bring the reactants into closer proximity. Furthermore, MMP-7 bound to cell surface SM4 or CS cleaved specific cell surface proteins and released similar fragments, whereas the cleavage was not stimulated by cell surface CL-bound MMP-7. This study provides a novel mechanism by which acidic lipids differentially regulate pericellular proteolysis by MMP-7 through allosteric alteration of the substrate-binding site and their inherent affinities for MMP-7 substrates.Matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) binds to cell surface acidic lipids and acts as a membrane-associated protease. We report that cholesterol sulfate, sulfatide and cardiolipin differentially modulate the pericellular proteolytic action of MMP-7 through allosteric alteration of substrate-binding site and their inherent affinities for MMP-7 substrates. The study predicts that the localization of the lipids also controls MMP-7 activity on cell surface.