Matrix metalloproteinase-19 (MMP-19), unlike other members of the MMP family, is expressed in basal keratinocytes of intact epidermis whereas keratinocytes in suprabasal and higher epidermal layers express this enzyme only during cutaneous disorders. As the activity of MMP-19 effects proliferation, migration, and adhesion of keratinocytes we examined whether transcription factors involved in keratinocyte differentiation repress the expression of MMP-19. Using luciferase reporter assays, POU transcription factors Tst-1 (Oct-6) and Skn-1a (Oct-11) markedly downregulated the activity of MMP-19 promoter in COS-7 cells and HaCaT keratinocytes. Tst-1 alone was able to inhibit 85% of the promoter activity. Skn-1a exhibited a weak inhibitory effect although it synergistically increased effects of Tst-1. HaCaT cells stably transfected with Tst-1 showed a strong decrease of activity of MMP-19 promoter that correlated with suppression of MMP-19, cytokeratin 14 and 5, decreased cell proliferation, and altered expression of involucrin and loricrin. The expression of MMP-9 was also significantly reduced in Tst-1 expressing keratinocytes. MMP-2 was substantially affected during its activation whereas the expression of MMP-28 was unchanged. Our results suggest that Tst-1 and Skn-1a regulate expression of MMPs in keratinocytes and effect both the expression and activation of these proteolytic enzymes. © 2006 The Society for Investigative Dermatology.