In contrast with the early view of metalloproteases as simple extracellular matrix-degrading entities, recent findings show that they are highly specific modulators of different signaling pathways involved, positively or negatively, in tumor development. Thus, before considering a given metalloprotease a therapeutic target, it seems advisable to characterize its function by identifying its repertoire of substrates. Here, we present a proteomic approach to identify ADAM17 substrates by difference gel electrophoresis. We found that the shedding of the extracellular domain of the transferrin receptor and those of two cell-cell adhesion molecules, activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM) and desmoglein 2 (Dsg-2), is increased in cells overexpressing ADAM17. Genetic evidence shows that while ADAM17 is responsible for the shedding of ALCA both ADAM17 and ADAM10 can act on Dsg-2. Activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor leads to the upregulation of the shedding of Dsg-2 and to the concomitant upregulation of ADAM17, but not ADAM10, supporting the ability of overexpressed ADAM17 to shed Dsg-2. These results unveil a role of ADAM10 and ADAM17 in the shedding of cell-cell adhesion molecules. Since loss of cell adhesion is an early event in tumor development, these results suggest that ADAM17 is a useful target in anticancer therapy. Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.