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1.  C-Terminal Truncation of α-COP Affects Functioning of Secretory Organelles and Calcium Homeostasis in Hansenula polymorpha 
Eukaryotic Cell  2004;3(1):52-60.
In eukaryotic cells, COPI vesicles retrieve resident proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum and mediate intra-Golgi transport. Here, we studied the Hansenula polymorpha homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae RET1 gene, encoding α-COP, a subunit of the COPI protein complex. H. polymorpha ret1 mutants, which expressed truncated α-COP lacking more than 300 C-terminal amino acids, manifested an enhanced ability to secrete human urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and an inability to grow with a shortage of Ca2+ ions, whereas a lack of α-COP expression was lethal. The α-COP defect also caused alteration of intracellular transport of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein Gas1p, secretion of abnormal uPA forms, and reductions in the levels of Pmr1p, a Golgi Ca2+-ATPase. Overexpression of Pmr1p suppressed some ret1 mutant phenotypes, namely, Ca2+ dependence and enhanced uPA secretion. The role of COPI-dependent vesicular transport in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis is discussed.
PMCID: PMC329505  PMID: 14871936
2.  Development of a Mammalian Suspension Culture for Expression of Active Recombinant Human Urokinase-type Plasminogen Activator 
Cytotechnology  2005;49(1):25-37.
The development of specific catalytic inhibitors for the serine protease urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) has been hindered due to difficulties in producing sufficient amounts of active recombinant uPA that is catalytically equivalent to native uPA. The purpose of this study was to develop an efficient system for the expression of recombinant human uPA that exhibits comparable proteolytic activity to that of the native protein. Since post-translational modifications (e.g. glycosylations) of uPA are necessary for efficient proteolytic activity, we have used a mammalian cell line [Chinese hamster ovary (CHO)-S] to express recombinant human uPA. CHO-S cells were selected to stably express full-length recombinant human uPA containing a hexahistidine tag at its C-terminus to permit purification by nickel-based affinity chromatography. Secretion of recombinant uPA into the culture media was confirmed by immunoblotting and the presence of an N-linked glycosylation was confirmed by PNGase sensitivity. Enzymatic activity of purified recombinant uPA was demonstrated using zymography and quantitatively compared to native uPA by kinetic analysis using an uPA-specific substrate. Native uPA and the recombinant uPA demonstrated comparable Km values (55.7 and 39 μM, respectively). Furthermore, inhibition studies using benzamidine resulted in a Ki of 195 μM for native uPA, while recombinant uPA had a Ki of 112 μM. These data indicate that recombinant human uPA expressed by CHO-S cells is functionally comparable to native uPA.
PMCID: PMC3449752  PMID: 19003060
CHO-S; plasminogen; recombinant expression; serine protease; tumor cell motility; uPA; urokinase
3.  uPA Binding to PAI-1 Induces Corneal Myofibroblast Differentiation on Vitronectin 
Vitronectin (VN) in provisional extracellular matrix (ECM) promotes cell migration. Fibrotic ECM also includes VN and, paradoxically, strongly adherent myofibroblasts (Mfs). Because fibrotic Mfs secrete elevated amounts of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), we tested whether increased extracellular uPA promotes the persistence of Mfs on VN.
Primary human corneal fibroblasts (HCFs) were cultured in supplemented serum-free medium on VN or collagen (CL) with 1ng/mL transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1). Adherent cells were quantified using crystal violet. Protein expression was measured by Western blotting and flow cytometry. Transfection of short interfering RNAs was performed by nucleofection. Mfs were identified by α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) stress fibers. Plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) levels were quantified by ELISA.
TGFβ1-treated HCFs secreted PAI-1 (0.5uM) that bound to VN, competing with αvβ3/αvβ5 integrin/VN binding, thus promoting cell detachment from VN. However, addition of uPA to cells on VN increased Mf differentiation (9.7-fold), cell-adhesion (2.2-fold), and binding by the VN integrins αvβ3 and -β5 (2.2-fold). Plasmin activity was not involved in promoting these changes, as treatment with the plasmin inhibitor aprotinin had no effect. A dominant negative PAI-1 mutant (PAI-1R) that binds to VN but does not inhibit uPA prevented the increase in uPA-stimulated cell adhesion and reduced uPA-stimulated integrin αvβ3/αvβ5 binding to VN by 73%.
uPA induction of TGFβ1-dependent Mf differentiation on VN supports the hypothesis that elevated secretion of uPA in fibrotic tissue may promote cell adhesion and the persistence of Mfs. By blocking uPA-stimulated cell adhesion, PAI-1R may be a useful agent in combating corneal scarring.
Increased secretion of uPA and PAI-1 and persistent myofibroblasts characterize fibrosis and scarring. Our study shows that excess uPA promotes corneal myofibroblast differentiation on vitronectin by increasing integrin-mediated binding, through the release of PAI-1
PMCID: PMC3949353  PMID: 22700714
Biochemistry  2011;51(1):205-213.
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) is expressed by lung epithelial cells and regulates fibrin turnover and epithelial cell viability. PMA, LPS, and TNF-alpha, as well as uPA itself, induce uPA expression in lung epithelial cells. PMA, LPS, and TNF-alpha induce uPA expression through increased synthesis as well as stabilization of uPA mRNA, while uPA increases its own expression solely through uPA mRNA stabilization. The mechanism by which lung epithelial cells regulate uPA expression at the level of mRNA stability is unclear. To elucidate this process, we sought to characterize protein-uPA mRNA interactions that regulate uPA expression. Regulation of uPA at the level of mRNA stability involves the interaction of a ~40 kDa cytoplasmic-nuclear shuttling protein with a 66 nt uPA mRNA 3′UTR sequence. We purified the uPA mRNA 3′UTR binding protein and identified it as ribonucleotide reductase M2 (RRM2). We expressed recombinant RRM2 and confirmed its interaction with a specific 66 nt uPA 3′UTR sequence. Immunoprecipitation of cell lysates with anti-RRM2 antibody and RT-PCR for uPA mRNA confirmed that RRM2 binds to uPA mRNA. Treatment of Beas2B cells with uPA or LPS attenuated RRM2-endogenous uPA mRNA interactions, while overexpression of RRM2 inhibited uPA protein and mRNA expression through destabilization of uPA mRNA. LPS exposure of lung epithelial cells translocates RRM2 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in a time-dependent manner leading to stabilization of uPA mRNA. This newly recognized pathway could influence uPA expression and a broad range of uPA-dependent functions in lung epithelial cells in the context of lung inflammation and repair.
PMCID: PMC3254797  PMID: 22166006
Urokinase; ribonucleotide reductase M2; Urokinase-type plasminogen activator; Acute lung injury
5.  Regulation of urokinase-type plasminogen activator gene transcription by macrophage colony-stimulating factor. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(6):3430-3441.
The mouse urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) gene was used as a model macrophage colony-stimulating factor 1 (CSF-1)-inducible gene to investigate CSF-1 signalling pathways. Nuclear run-on analysis showed that induction of uPA mRNA by CSF-1 and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) was at the transcriptional level in bone marrow-derived macrophages. CSF-1 and PMA synergized strongly in the induction of uPA mRNA, showing that at least some components of CSF-1 action are mediated independently of protein kinase C. Promoter targets of CSF-1 signalling were investigated with NIH 3T3 cells expressing the human CSF-1 receptor (c-fms). uPA mRNA was induced in these cells by treatment with CSF-1, and a PEA3/AP-1 element at -2.4 kb in the uPA promoter was involved in this response. Ets transcription factors can act through PEA3 sequences, and the involvement of Ets factors in the induction of uPA was confirmed by use of a dominant negative Ets-2 factor. Expression of the DNA binding domain of Ets-2 fused to the lacZ gene product prevented CSF-1-mediated induction of uPA mRNA in NIH 3T3 cells expressing the CSF-1 receptor. Examination of ets-2 mRNA expression in macrophages showed that it was also induced synergistically by CSF-1 and PMA. In the macrophage cell line RAW264, the uPA PEA3/AP-1 element mediated a response to both PMA and cotransfected Ets-2. uPA promoter constructs were induced 60- to 130-fold by Ets-2 expression, and the recombinant Ets-2 DNA binding domain was able to bind to the uPA PEA3/AP-1 element. This work is consistent with a proposed pathway for CSF-1 signalling involving sequential activation of fms, ras, and Ets factors.
PMCID: PMC230578  PMID: 7760840
6.  High level of urokinase plasminogen activator contributes to cholangiocarcinoma invasion and metastasis 
AIM: To investigate the role of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) invasion and its correlation with clinicopathological parameters.
METHODS: uPA expression in CCA tissue was determined by immunohistochemistry. The level of uPA from two CCA cell lines (HuCCA-1 and KKU-M213) and a non-cancer immortalized cholangiocyte cell line (H69) was monitored by plasminogen-gelatin zymography and western blotting, whereas that of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) protein and uPA receptor (uPAR) mRNA was monitored by western blotting and quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, respectively. Two independent methods were employed to suppress uPA function: a synthetic uPA inhibitor (B428) and silencing of uPA gene expression using siRNA. In vitro invasion of the uPA-disrupted cells was assessed by Matrigel-coated Transwell assay.
RESULTS: The immunohistochemical study showed that 75.3% (131/174) of CCA tissues expressed uPA. High uPA expression was correlated with lymphatic invasion and metastasis of CCA patients. Plasminogen-gelatin zymography of the conditioned media and cell-surface eluates showed that both CCA cell lines, but not H69, expressed both secreted and membrane-bound forms of uPA. Although the two CCA cell lines, HuCCA-1 and KKU-M213, expressed a relatively high level of uPA and uPAR, the latter exhibited a much lower degree of in vitro invasiveness, correlating with a high expression of PAI-1 in the latter, but not in the former. Suppressing uPA function with a specific uPA inhibitor, B428, or with siRNA against uPA reduced in vitro invasiveness of KKU-M213 cells, demonstrating the requirement for uPA in the invasiveness of CCA cells. Therefore, our in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that uPA is an important requirement for the invasion process of CCA.
CONCLUSION: uPA expression correlates with lymphatic invasion and metastasis in vivo and is required for CCA cell invasion in vitro, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3261541  PMID: 22294827
Bile duct cancer; Cholangiocarcinoma; Cancer invasion; Urokinase plasminogen activator; Cancer metastasis
7.  Enhanced expression of genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis in murine arthritis 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):504-512.
We have analyzed the pattern of procoagulant and fibrinolytic gene expression in affected joints during the course of arthritis in two murine models. In both models, we found an increased expression of tissue factor, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, urokinase plasminogen activator, and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, as well as thrombin receptor. The observed pattern of gene expression tended to favor procoagulant activity, and this pattern was confirmed by functional assays. These alterations would account for persistence of fibrin within the inflamed joint, as is seen in rheumatoid arthritis.
Accumulation of fibrin in the joints remains one of the most striking histopathological features of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, we have provided evidence of the deleterious role of synovial fibrin deposition in arthritic joints in antigen-induced arthritis (AIA), a well-established murine model of RA.
A local imbalance between fibrin formation and fibrin dissolution may result in fibrin deposition in the joints.
On the one hand, fibrin formation is mainly initiated by tissue factor (TF), a transmembrane protein serving as a receptor for factor VII. Under normal conditions, TF expression and activity are tightly regulated. Constitutive TF expression is restricted to perivascular and epithelial cells, and the catalytic activity of the TF/VIIa complex can be inhibited by tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). Pathological conditions can perturb the cell-type-restricted pattern of TF expression. In particular, recent reports have shown that transcriptional activation of TF can be mediated by molecular mechanisms involving induction of the early growth response gene 1 (EGR1) or of the protease-activated receptor (PAR1) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) genes.
On the other hand, fibrin degradation is mediated primarily by plasmin, which is the active form of the zymogen plasminogen. Conversion of plasminogen to plasmin is under the control of serine protease plasminogen activators, such as the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), and their inhibitors, such as the plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1).
We hypothesized that the deposition of fibrin in the joints may result from an imbalance in the local expression of key genes involved in coagulation and fibrinolytic pathways. To test this hypothesis, we investigated mRNA levels in arthritic versus nonarthritic joint tissues from two murine models of RA: AIA and collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Genes that are directly implicated in coagulation (TF, TFPI) and fibrinolysis (UPA, PAI1), and other genes that may influence the expression of TF (EGR1, PAR1, VEGF), were investigated using a novel multiprobe RNase protection assay (RPA). Furthermore, we evaluated coagulation activity in arthritic and nonarthritic mice.
Mice with AIA or CIA were sacrificed at different time points: 2, 4, and 16 h and 3, 7, and 14 d after intra-articular antigen injection for AIA; 42 d after the first immunization for CIA. Total RNA was prepared from arthritic and nonarthritic knees for AIA, or arthritic and nonarthritic hind paws for CIA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of the genes described above were determined by RPA and normalized to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) mRNA levels. Coagulation assays were performed on joint tissue extracts and concentrations of thrombin-antithrombin III (TAT) complex were measured in plasma.
In AIA, all the genes studied except VEGF were upmodulated as early as 2 h. PAR1, TFPI, EGR1, and UPA expression decreased to control levels by 16 h, whereas the expression of TF and PAI1 remained elevated. At later times, only TF, PAI1, and UPA showed sustained overexpression. In CIA, gene expression was assayed at only one time point (42 d after immunization) and all genes showed higher mRNA levels in the affected paws than in control paws. In AIA mice, procoagulant activity and TF activity were significantly increased in arthritic joints, and in CIA mice, plasma TAT levels were significantly enhanced.
Fibrin deposition in synovia is prominent in both RA and experimental arthritis, suggesting that this protein may play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammation. In this study, we have tried to shed some light on the molecular mechanisms leading to extravascular fibrin deposition, using two well-established mouse models of RA: AIA and CIA. The kinetics of gene expression was first analyzed in mice with AIA, because this model allows for an accurate, temporally controlled sampling of synovial inflammation. We then extended our observations by analyzing one time point in CIA, 42 d after immunization, when chronic inflammation is present. We found that in both models, coagulation and fibrinolysis in arthritic joints were significantly increased, and that the most significant increases were in TF and PAI-1.
Although the molecular mechanism or mechanisms responsible for the transcriptional changes observed are not completely understood, the increases in TF, PAI-1, and uPA are probably due to the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 and TGF-α. These cytokines, whose presence in the inflamed synovium is well documented, are known to induce these genes through the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), a transcription factor. TF induction is also under the control of a proximal enhancer containing a binding site for the inducible transcription factor EGR1. Indeed, the early rise of EGR1 expression in AIA is consistent with its classification as immediate-early gene and may be responsible for the induction of early expression of TF. Early TF stimulation in AIA can also be accounted for by the transient overexpression of PAR1. Contrary to what has been shown in RA, VEGF expression remained essentially unchanged throughout the progression of AIA, probably reflecting a peculiarity of this murine model.
The alteration of the patterns of gene expression was accompanied by increased functional coagulation activity, which was more marked in AIA than in CIA.
Prominent fibrin deposition in two different animal models of RA – AIA and CIA – can be attributed to modulations in key regulatory genes for coagulation and fibrinolysis.
PMCID: PMC17822  PMID: 11056680
arthritis; coagulation; fibrinolysis; mice; RNase protection
8.  Induction of urokinase-type plasminogen activator by UV light in human fetal fibroblasts is mediated through a UV-induced secreted protein. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1987;7(2):622-631.
Plasminogen activator was previously shown to be induced by UV light in human cells with low capacity to repair UV-induced DNA lesions. We now show that in human fetal fibroblasts UV light enhanced the two mRNA species coding for the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and the tissue-type plasminogen activator, but immunological analysis revealed exclusively uPA activity. Several independent and complementary experiments indicated that induction of uPA was mediated, apparently entirely, through a UV-induced, secreted protein (UVIS) in the growth medium of irradiated cells. First, elevation of uPA mRNA after irradiation was severely blocked by cycloheximide. Second, replacement of conditioned medium in irradiated cells while the rate of plasminogen activator induction was maximal rapidly and completely stopped any further increase in uPA activity. Third, addition of the same removed conditioned medium to nonirradiated cells mimicked UV light in enhancing the level of uPA activity as well as that of uPA mRNA. Fourth, UVIS activity was completely lost by treating the conditioned medium with trypsin but not with nucleases. Kinetic measurements indicated that the accumulation of UVIS rather than the induction of uPA by UVIS conferred the rate-limiting step in the overall process of uPA induction. Both UV light and UVIS acted synergistically with inhibitors of DNA repair for uPA induction. Based on these results, a model is proposed implicating relaxation of DNA torsional stress of an as yet undefined DNA sequence(s) in the induction of UVIS, which is then responsible for activation of the uPA gene.
PMCID: PMC365117  PMID: 3102944
9.  Protease nexin-1 expression is altered in human breast cancer 
Urokinase-type Plasminogen Activator (uPA), a serine protease, plays a pivotal role in human breast cancer metastasis by mediating the degradation of extracellular matrix proteins and promoting cell motility. In more advanced breast cancers, uPA activity is significantly up regulated and serves as a prognostic indicator of poor patient outcome. Classically, regulation of uPA activity, especially in breast cancers, is thought to be mediated by Type 1 Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor (PAI-1). However, we have recently found that a lesser known natural inhibitor of uPA, Protease Nexin 1 (PN-1), is expressed in normal human mammary tissue. Based on this observation, we investigated if PN-1 is also expressed in human breast cancers where it may contribute to the regulation of uPA and participate in the development of a metastatic phenotype.
Using quantitative real-time PCR analysis, we measured PN-1 mRNA expression in tissues obtained from 26 human breast tumor biopsies and compared these values with those obtained from 10 normal breast tissue samples. Since both PAI-1 and uPA expression levels are known to be elevated in metastatic breast cancer, we also measured their levels in our 26 tumor samples for direct comparison with PN-1 expression. We found that PN-1 expression was elevated over that found in normal mammary tissue; an increase of 1.5- to 3.5-fold in 21 of 26 human breast tumors examined. As anticipated, both PAI-1 and uPA mRNA levels were significantly higher in the majority of breast tumors; 19 of 26 tumors for PAI-1 and 22 of 26 tumors for uPA. A quantile box plot of these data demonstrates that the elevated PN-1 expression in breast tumor tissues directly correlates with the increased expression levels found for PAI-1 and uPA.
The fact that PN-1 expression is elevated in human breast cancer, and that its increased expression is directly correlated with increases measured for PAI-1 and uPA, suggests that PN-1 may contribute to the regulation of uPA-mediate tumor cell motility and metastatic spread.
PMCID: PMC1501059  PMID: 16737540
10.  In vivo paracrine interaction between urokinase and its receptor: effect on tumor cell invasion 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1991;115(4):1107-1112.
Numerous studies have linked the production of increased levels of urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA) with the malignant phenotype. It has also been shown that a specific cell surface receptor can bind uPA through a domain distinct and distant from the proteolytic domain. In an in vivo model of invasion, consisting of experimentally modified chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) of a chick embryo, only cells that concurrently expressed both uPA and a receptor for uPA, and in which the receptor was saturated with uPA, were efficient in invasion. To test whether uPA produced by one cell can, in a paracrine fashion, affect the invasive capacity of a receptor-expressing cell, we transfected LB6 mouse cells with human uPA (LB6[uPA]), or human uPA- receptor cDNA (LB6[uPAR]). LB6(uPA) cells released into the medium 1-2 Ploug units of human uPA per 10(6) cells in 24 h. The LB6(uPAR) cells expressed on their surface approximately 12,000 high affinity (Kd 1.7 x 10(-10) M uPA binding sites per cell. Unlabeled LB6(uPA) and 125-IUdR- labeled LB6(uPAR) cells were coinoculated onto experimentally wounded and resealed CAMs and their invasion was compared to that of homologous mixtures of labeled and unlabeled LB6(uPAR) or LB6(uPA) cells. Concurrent presence of both cell types in the CAMs resulted in a 1.8- fold increase of invasion of the uPA-receptor expressing cells. A four- fold stimulation of invasion was observed when cells were cocultured in vitro, prior to in vivo inoculation. Enhancement of invasion was prevented in both sets of experiments by treatment with specific antihuman uPA antibodies, indicating that uPA was the main mediator of the invasion-enhancing, paracrine effect on the receptor-expressing cells.
PMCID: PMC2289942  PMID: 1659573
11.  Urokinase Expression by Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 
Lung carcinoma (H1299) cells deficient in p53 (p53−/−) express large amounts of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) protein and uPA mRNA, and exhibit slower degradation of uPA mRNA than that of p53-expressing nonmalignant Beas2B human airway epithelial cells. Expression of p53 protein in H1299 cells, upon transfection with p53 cDNA, suppressed basal as well as uPA-induced expression of uPA protein in both conditioned media and cell lysates, and decreased the level of steady-state uPA mRNA primarily due to increased uPA mRNA turnover. Inhibition of p53 expression by RNA silencing (SiRNA) in Beas2B cells enhanced basal and uPA-mediated uPA protein and mRNA expression with stabilization of uPA mRNA. Purified p53 binds to the uPA mRNA 3′ untranslated region (UTR) in a sequence-specific manner and endogenous uPA mRNA associates with p53 protein isolated from Beas2B cytosolic extracts. p53 binds to a 35-nucleotide uPA 3′UTR sequence and insertion of this sequence into β-globin mRNA accelerates degradation of otherwise stable β-globin mRNA. These observations confirm a new role for p53 as a uPA mRNA binding protein that down-regulates uPA mRNA stability and decreases cellular uPA expression.
PMCID: PMC2542451  PMID: 18390474
post-transcriptional regulation; urokinase-type plasminogen activator; p53; mRNA stability; RNA binding protein
12.  Degradation of Internalized αvβ5 Integrin Is Controlled by uPAR Bound uPA: Effect on β1 Integrin Activity and α-SMA Stress Fiber Assembly 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33915.
Myofibroblasts (Mfs) that persist in a healing wound promote extracellular matrix (ECM) accumulation and excessive tissue contraction. Increased levels of integrin αvβ5 promote the Mf phenotype and other fibrotic markers. Previously we reported that maintaining uPA (urokinase plasminogen activator) bound to its cell-surface receptor, uPAR prevented TGFβ-induced Mf differentiation. We now demonstrate that uPA/uPAR controls integrin β5 protein levels and in turn, the Mf phenotype. When cell-surface uPA was increased, integrin β5 levels were reduced (61%). In contrast, when uPA/uPAR was silenced, integrin β5 total and cell-surface levels were increased (2–4 fold). Integrin β5 accumulation resulted from a significant decrease in β5 ubiquitination leading to a decrease in the degradation rate of internalized β5. uPA-silencing also induced α-SMA stress fiber organization in cells that were seeded on collagen, increased cell area (1.7 fold), and increased integrin β1 binding to the collagen matrix, with reduced activation of β1. Elevated cell-surface integrin β5 was necessary for these changes after uPA-silencing since blocking αvβ5 function reversed these effects. Our data support a novel mechanism by which downregulation of uPA/uPAR results in increased integrin αvβ5 cell-surface protein levels that regulate the activity of β1 integrins, promoting characteristics of the persistent Mf.
PMCID: PMC3309951  PMID: 22470492
13.  Urokinase plasminogen activator receptor, beta 2-integrins, and Src- kinases within a single receptor complex of human monocytes 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1995;181(4):1381-1390.
The glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored membrane protein urokinase plasminogen activator-receptor (uPA-R; CD87) is one of the key molecules involved in migration of leukocytes and tumor cells. uPA bound to uPA-R provides the cell proteolytic potential used for degradation of extracellular matrix. uPA-R is also involved in induction of cell adhesion and chemotaxis. Here, we provide a molecular explanation for these uPA-R-related cellular events. By size fractionation of monocyte lysate and affinity isolation on its natural ligand uPA, we demonstrate uPA-R as a component of a receptor complex of relatively large size. Reprecipitation and immunoblotting techniques allowed us to detect the protein tyrosine kinases (PTKs) p60fyn, p53/56lyn, p58/64hck, and p59fgr as components of this "uPA-R complex". Activation of monocytes even with enzymatically inactivated uPA resulted in induction of tyrosine phosphorylation, suggesting modulation of uPA-R-associated PTKs upon ligand binding. In spite of their presence in large complexes, we did not find the GPI-linked proteins CD14, CD58, and CD59 in the uPA-R complex, which indicates the presence of different receptor domains containing GPI-linked proteins in monocytes. However, we identified the leukocyte integrins LFA-1 and CR3 as components of the uPA-R complex as indicated by coisolation of these molecules, as well as by cocapping and comodulation of uPA-R and leukocyte integrins on the monocyte surface. The assemblage of uPA-R, PTKs and membrane spanning beta 2-integrins in one receptor complex indicates functional cooperation. In regard to the involvement of these molecules in pericellular proteolysis, signal transduction, as well as adhesion and chemotactic movement, we suggest uPA-R complex as a potential cellular device for cell migration.
PMCID: PMC2191946  PMID: 7535337
14.  Exacerbation of antigen-induced arthritis in urokinase-deficient mice. 
In rheumatoid arthritis, synovial expression of urokinase (uPA) activity is greatly increased (Busso, N., V. Péclat, A. So, and A. -P. Sappino. 1997. Ann. Rheum. Dis. 56:550- 557). We report the same effect in murine antigen-induced arthritis. uPA-mediated plasminogen activation in arthritic joints may have deleterious effects via degradation of cartilage and bone matrix proteins as well as beneficial effects via fibrin degradation. We evaluated these contrasting effects in vivo by analyzing the phenotype of uPA-deficient (uPA-/-) and control mice during antigen-induced arthritis. Joint inflammation was comparable in both groups up to day 3 and subsequently declined in control mice, remaining significantly elevated in uPA-/- mice on days 10 and 30 after arthritis onset. Likewise, synovial thickness was markedly increased in uPA-deficient mice persisting for up to 2 mo, whereas it subsided in control animals. Bone erosion was exacerbated in uPA-/- mice on day 30. By contrast, no difference in articular cartilage proteoglycan content was found between both groups. Significantly increased accumulation of fibrin was observed by day 30 in arthritic joints of uPA-/- mice. We hypothesized that synovial fibrin deposition plays a role in joint inflammation. Accordingly, defibrinogenation of uPA-/- mice by ancrod significantly decreased the sustained joint inflammation. All the above observations were reproducible in plasminogen-deficient (Pln-/-) mice. In conclusion, synovial fibrin deposition plays a role as a nonimmunological mechanism which sustains chronic arthritis.
PMCID: PMC509063  PMID: 9649555
15.  Norrin attenuates protease-mediated death of transformed retinal ganglion cells 
Molecular Vision  2009;15:26-37.
To investigate the effects of norrin, a nonconventional ligand for Wingless-Int (Wnt)-beta-catenin signaling pathway, on protease-mediated death of transformed rat retinal ganglion cells (RGC-5).
Transformed RGC-5 cells were treated with 2.0 μM staurosporine (SS), a broad-spectrum protein kinase-C inhibitor, to induce growth arrest, differentiation, and elevated levels of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA). RGC-5 cells were also treated with 2.0 μM SS and varying doses of recombinant norrin (3.125 to 100 ng/ml). Activation of Wnt pathway was assessed by nuclear translocation of beta-catenin. Proteolytic activity of tPA and uPA was determined by zymography assays and cell viability was determined by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assays. Expression and phosphorylation of the low-density lipoprotein-related receptor-1 (LRP-1), a cell surface receptor for tPA and uPA, was determined by immunoprecipitation and western blot analysis.
Compared to RGC-5 cells left untreated, cells treated with either SS alone or SS and norrin secreted elevated levels of tPA and uPA. A significant number of RGC-5 cells treated with only SS underwent cell death, whereas cells treated with SS and norrin did not, even though RGC-5 cells secreted elevated levels of tPA and uPA under both treatment conditions. Although norrin activated the Wnt pathway, Dickkopf related protein 1 (Dkk1), an inhibitor of Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, failed to completely block norrin’s neuroprotective effects. Assays for expression and phosphorylation of LRP-1 indicated that tPA and uPA cause RGC-5 cell death, in part, by reducing phosphorylation of LRP-1, whereas norrin attenuated tPA and uPA-mediated RGC cell death, in part, by restoring phosphorylation of LRP-1.
Our results suggest that norrin attenuates tPA- and uPA-mediated death of RGC-5 cells by activating Wnt/beta-catenin pathway and by regulating phosphorylation of LRP-1.
PMCID: PMC2615462  PMID: 19137075
16.  Urokinase, a constitutive component of the inflamed synovial fluid, induces arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2002;5(1):R9-R17.
Urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) is an important regulator of fibrinolysis in synovial fluid. An increase of uPA activity and expression of its receptor have been reported in joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of the present study was to assess the arthritogenic capacity of uPA and the mechanisms by which this effect is mediated. uPA was injected into the knee joints of healthy mice, and morphological signs of arthritis were assessed 4 days after the injection. The prerequisite of different leukocyte populations for the development of uPA-triggered arthritis was assessed by selective cell depletion. The inflammatory capacity of uPA was assessed in vitro. Finally, levels of uPA were measured in 67 paired blood and synovial fluid samples from RA patients. The synovial fluid from RA patients displayed higher levels of uPA compared with blood samples. Morphological signs of arthritis were found in 72% of uPA-injected joints compared with in only 18% of joints injected with PBS (P < 0.05). Synovitis was characterised by infiltration of CD4-Mac-1+ mononuclear cells, by the formation of pannus and by occasional cartilage destruction. The absence of monocytes and lymphocytes diminished the frequency of synovitis (P < 0.01), indicating an arthritogenic role of both these leukocyte populations. Synthetic uPA inhibitor downregulated the incidence of uPA-triggered arthritis by 50%. uPA induced arthritis, stimulating the release of proinflammatory cytokines IL-6, IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor alpha. Accumulation of uPA locally in the joint cavity is a typical finding in erosive RA. uPA exerts potent arthritogenic properties and thus may be viewed as one of the essential mediators of joint inflammation.
PMCID: PMC154426  PMID: 12716448
arthritis; inflammation; urokinase plasminogen activator
17.  Shear stress modulates macrophage-induced urokinase plasminogen activator expression in human chondrocytes 
Synovial macrophages, which can release proinflammatory factors, are responsible for the upregulation of cartilage-breakdown proteases and play critical roles in cartilage degradation during the progression of osteoarthritis (OA). In addition, shear stress exerts multifunctional effects on chondrocytes by inducing the synthesis of catabolic or anabolic genes. However, the interplay of macrophages, chondrocytes, and shear stress during the regulation of cartilage function remains poorly understood. We investigated the mechanisms underlying the modulation of human chondrocyte urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) expression by macrophages and shear stress.
Human chondrocytes were stimulated by peripheral blood-macrophage- conditioned medium (PB-MCM), or exposure of chondrocytes cultured in PB-MCM to different levels of shear stress (2 to 20 dyn/cm2). Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to analyze uPA gene expression. Inhibitors and small interfering RNA were used to investigate the mechanism for the effects of PB-MCM and shear stress in chondrocytes.
Stimulation of human chondrocytes with PB-MCM was found to induce uPA expression. We demonstrated that activation of the JNK and Akt pathways and NF-κB are critical for PB-MCM-induced uPA expression. Blocking assays by using IL-1ra further demonstrated that IL-1β in PB-MCM is the major mediator of uPA expression in chondrocytes. PB-MCM-treated chondrocytes subjected to a lower level of shear stress showed inhibition of MCM-induced JNK and Akt phosphorylation, NF-κB activation, and uPA expression. The PB-MCM-induced uPA expression was suppressed by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) agonist. The inhibitor or siRNA for AMPK abolished the shear-mediated inhibition of uPA expression.
These data support the hypothesis that uPA upregulation stimulated by macrophages may play an active role in the onset of OA and in the shear-stress protection against this induction.
PMCID: PMC4060380  PMID: 23597113
18.  Urokinase and its Receptors in Chronic Kidney Disease 
Since the recognition that plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is a powerful profibrotic molecule, there has been considerable interest in deciphering the extent to which this effect is mediated by its ability to inhibit serine proteases with downstream effects on fibrogenesis. This review will summarize current knowledge about the serine protease urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its high affinity receptor uPAR/CD87 as it pertains to chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression. An emerging theme is that the effects of PAI-1 and uPAR appear to be organ- and site-specific. Normal kidney tubules produce a large quantity of uPA that is secreted into the urinary space. Activity levels increase during CKD presumably due to new sources of production by macrophages and fibroblasts. By activating hepatocyte growth factor and degrading fibrinogen uPA may have anti-fibrotic effects. However CKD severity after experimental ureteral obstruction is not altered by endogenous uPA deficiency. Beneficial effects of exogenous uPA have been reported in experimental models of fibrosis in the lung and liver but CKD awaits exploration.
Absent in normal kidneys uPAR is expressed by both renal parenchymal cells and inflammatory cells in a variety of pathological states. Such expression appears beneficial based on studies performed in uPAR-deficient mice. The uPAR promotes bacterial clearance in infectious diseases. In CKD uPAR expression is associated with high uPA activity but its most important effect appears to be due to scavenging activities and effects on cell recruitment and migration. Although uPAR itself is a non-signaling receptor, it interacts with a variety of co-receptors to modify cellular behavior. Best known are interactions with the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP-1) that lead to PAI-1 endocytosis and degradation, and interactions with several integrins to regulate matrix-dependent cell migration. Contacts with the receptor for the complement C5a component and the interleukin −6 receptor gp130 are examples of other recently recognized interactions.
In addition to uPA, vitronectin and high molecular weight kininogen are alternate uPAR ligands that could be implicated in CKD progression. uPAR may also be shed from cell membranes. This soluble form (suPAR) has been detected in plasma and urine and is known to be a chemoattractant for leukocytes that express the formyl-peptide-receptor-like receptor 1/lipoxin A4 receptor. In addition to uPAR several other receptors, including some of the uPAR co-receptors, may also bind directly to uPA and activate cell signaling pathways. The roles of these newer uPAR ligands and uPA receptors are just beginning to be investigated. Since many of them are expressed in the kidney, their potential participation in CKD pathogenesis will be of interest.
PMCID: PMC3142275  PMID: 18508599
urokinase; urokinase receptor; serine protease; plasminogen activator inhibitor-1; low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein; fibrosis; vitronectin; integrin
19.  Mutants of the Yeast Yarrowia lipolytica Defective in Protein Exit from the Endoplasmic Reticulum Are Also Defective in Peroxisome Biogenesis 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(5):2789-2803.
Mutations in the SEC238 and SRP54 genes of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica not only cause temperature-sensitive defects in the exit of the precursor form of alkaline extracellular protease and of other secretory proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum and in protein secretion but also lead to temperature-sensitive growth in oleic acid-containing medium, the metabolism of which requires the assembly of functionally intact peroxisomes. The sec238A and srp54KO mutations at the restrictive temperature significantly reduce the size and number of peroxisomes, affect the import of peroxisomal matrix and membrane proteins into the organelle, and significantly delay, but do not prevent, the exit of two peroxisomal membrane proteins, Pex2p and Pex16p, from the endoplasmic reticulum en route to the peroxisomal membrane. Mutations in the PEX1 and PEX6 genes, which encode members of the AAA family of N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein-like ATPases, not only affect the exit of precursor forms of secretory proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum but also prevent the exit of the peroxisomal membrane proteins Pex2p and Pex16p from the endoplasmic reticulum and cause the accumulation of an extensive network of endoplasmic reticulum membranes. None of the peroxisomal matrix proteins tested associated with the endoplasmic reticulum in sec238A, srp54KO, pex1-1, and pex6KO mutant cells. Our data provide evidence that the endoplasmic reticulum is required for peroxisome biogenesis and suggest that in Y. lipolytica, the trafficking of some membrane proteins, but not matrix proteins, to the peroxisome occurs via the endoplasmic reticulum, results in their glycosylation within the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, does not involve transport through the Golgi, and requires the products encoded by the SEC238, SRP54, PEX1, and PEX6 genes.
PMCID: PMC110658  PMID: 9566898
20.  Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Induces Pro-Fibrotic/M2 Phenotype in Murine Cardiac Macrophages 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57837.
Inflammation and fibrosis are intertwined in multiple disease processes. We have previously found that over-expression of urokinase plasminogen activator in macrophages induces spontaneous macrophage accumulation and fibrosis specific to the heart in mice. Understanding the relationship between inflammation and fibrosis in the heart is critical to developing therapies for diverse myocardial diseases. Therefore, we sought to determine if uPA induces changes in macrophage function that promote cardiac collagen accumulation.
Methods and Results
We analyzed the effect of the uPA transgene on expression of pro-inflammatory (M1) and pro-fibrotic (M2) genes and proteins in hearts and isolated macrophages of uPA overexpressing mice. We found that although there was elevation of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 in hearts of transgenic mice, IL-6 is not a major effector of uPA induced cardiac fibrosis. However, uPA expressing bone marrow-derived macrophages are polarized to express M2 genes in response to IL-4 stimulation, and these M2 genes are upregulated in uPA expressing macrophages following migration to the heart. In addition, while uPA expressing macrophages express a transcriptional profile that is seen in tumor–associated macrophages, these macrophages promote collagen expression in cardiac but not embryonic fibroblasts.
Urokinase plasminogen activator induces an M2/profibrotic phenotype in macrophages that is fully expressed after migration of macrophages into the heart. Understanding the mechanisms by which uPA modulates macrophage function may reveal insights into diverse pathologic processes.
PMCID: PMC3594198  PMID: 23536772
21.  Differential regulation of cell proliferation and protease secretion by epidermal growth factor and amphiregulin in tumoral versus normal breast epithelial cells 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;84(7):936-945.
Amphiregulin (AR) is a heparin-binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-related peptide that seems to play an important role in mammary epithelial cell growth regulation. We have investigated the regulation of AR-gene expression and -protein secretion by EGF in normal breast epithelial cells (HMECs), as well as in the tumoral breast epithelial cell lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB231. EGF induced a dose-dependent increase of AR mRNA level in both normal and tumoral cells. Thus, 10−8M EGF stimulated AR expression in HMECs to 140–300% of control. A similar EGF concentration increased AR mRNA level to 550% and 980% of control in MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 cells, respectively. This was accompanied by an accumulation of AR into conditioned culture media. However, HMECs secreted in response to EGF, 5–10 fold more AR than tumour cells. Furthermore, the potential participation of AR in the regulation of the plasminogen activator (PA)/plasmin system was investigated. Whereas HMEC-proliferation was stimulated by AR, the levels of secreted urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and type-1 plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAi-1) remained unaffected. Conversely, AR failed to regulate the proliferation of tumoral cell lines but induced an accumulation of uPA and PAi-1 into culture media. This was accompanied by an increase of the number of tumoral cells that invaded matrigel in vitro. Moreover, the presence of a neutralizing anti-uPA receptor antibody reversed the increased invasiveness of MDA-MB231 cells induced by AR. These data reveal differential behaviour of normal versus tumoral breast epithelial cells in regard to the action of AR and demonstrate that, in a number of cases, AR might play a significant role in tumour progression through the regulation of the PA/plasmin system. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2363843  PMID: 11286474
amphiregulin; epidermal growth factor; proteases; breast cancer cells
22.  Differential modulation of plasminogen activator gene expression by oncogene-encoded protein tyrosine kinases. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1993;13(9):5888-5897.
Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) gene transcription is increased > or = 50-fold in chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF) following transformation by the protein tyrosine kinase pp60v-src. Protein phosphorylation appears to play a critical role in uPA gene expression in these cells; protein kinase C-activating phorbol esters cooperate with pp60v-src to synergistically increase uPA mRNA, whereas cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase-activating agents (e.g., 8-bromo cAMP) repress uPA mRNA levels. To explore the relationship between transforming oncogenes and uPA gene expression, uPA mRNA levels were measured in CEF infected with selected avian retroviruses. We report that v-ras and the transforming protein tyrosine kinases v-src, v-yes, and v-ros all increase cellular uPA mRNAs. However, transformation with the protein tyrosine kinase encoded by v-erbB, or the nuclear proteins encoded by v-jun, v-ski, or v-myc, did not increase uPA mRNA detectably. Ras and all of the protein tyrosine kinases analyzed, including the v-erbB product, but none of the nuclear oncoproteins sensitized cells to phorbol ester induction of uPA gene expression. Thus, increased uPA gene expression is not simply a secondary consequence of cell transformation but, rather, is regulated or comodulated by only a subset of oncogene products. Analysis of cells expressing site-directed mutants of pp60v-src showed that the induction of the uPA gene is dependent on protein tyrosine kinase catalytic activity, myristylation, and plasma membrane localization. However, these properties together are not sufficient; an additional feature in the src homology 2 domain is also required. The major sites of serine phosphorylation, serines 12 and 17, and the autophosphorylation site, tyrosine 416, are not essential for uPA gene induction. However, the reduction of uPA mRNA in pp60v-src-transformed cells by 8-bromo cAMP is dependent on tyrosine 416.
PMCID: PMC360337  PMID: 7689154
23.  Expression of the urokinase receptor in vascular endothelial cells is stimulated by basic fibroblast growth factor 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1991;113(5):1193-1201.
Basic fibroblast growth factor, a potent angiogenesis inducer, stimulates urokinase (uPA) production by vascular endothelial cells. In both basic fibroblast growth factor-stimulated and -nonstimulated bovine capillary endothelial and human umbilical vein endothelial cells single-chain uPA binding is mediated by a membrane protein with a Mr of 42,000. Exposure of bovine capillary or endothelial human umbilical vein endothelial cells to pmolar concentrations of basic fibroblast growth factor results in a dose-dependent, protein synthesis-dependent increase in the number of membrane receptors for uPA (19,500-187,000) and in a parallel decrease in their affinity (KD = 0.144-0.790 nM). With both cells, single-chain uPA binding is competed by synthetic peptides whose sequence corresponds to the receptor-binding sequence in the NH2-terminal domain of uPA. Exposure of bovine capillary endothelial cells to transforming growth factor beta 1, which inhibits uPA production and upregulates type 1 plasminogen activator inhibitor, the major endothelial cell plasminogen activator inhibitor, has no effect on uPA receptor levels. These results show that basic fibroblast growth factor, besides stimulating uPA production by vascular endothelial cells, also increases the production of receptors, which modulates their capacity to focalize this enzyme on the cell surface. This effect may be important in the degradative processes that occur during angiogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2289004  PMID: 1645739
24.  Platelet-Derived Growth Factor D Is Activated by Urokinase Plasminogen Activator in Prostate Carcinoma Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(14):6279-6288.
Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) protein family members are potent mitogens and chemoattractants for mesenchymal cells. The classic PDGF ligands A and B are single-domain protein chains which are secreted as active dimers capable of activating their cognate PDGF receptors (PDGFRs). In contrast to PDGFs A and B, PDGF D contains an N-terminal complement subcomponent C1r/C1s, Uegf, and Bmp1 (CUB) domain and a C-terminal PDGF domain. PDGF D must undergo extracellular proteolytic processing, separating the CUB domain from the PDGF domain, before the PDGF domain can stimulate β-PDGFR-mediated cell signal transduction. Here, we report that prostate carcinoma cells LNCaP and PC3 autoactivate latent full-length PDGF D into its active form under serum-independent conditions and that this autoactivation is inhibited by PAI-1, a urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA)/tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) inhibitor. Interestingly, uPA, but not the closely related protease tPA, is capable of processing recombinant latent PDGF DD into the active form. We identify the uPA cleavage site between the CUB and PDGF domains of the full-length PDGF D by mutational analysis and show that PDGF D and uPA colocalize in human prostate carcinoma. This evidence provides a direct link between uPA- and PDGF D-mediated cell signaling, which may contribute to the progression of prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC1168822  PMID: 15988036
25.  Transforming Growth Factor-Beta and Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator: Dangerous Partners in Tumorigenesis—Implications in Skin Cancer 
ISRN Dermatology  2013;2013:597927.
Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) is a pleiotropic factor, with several different roles in health and disease. TGF-β has been postulated as a dual factor in tumor progression, since it represses epithelial tumor development in early stages, whereas it stimulates tumor progression in advanced stages. During tumorigenesis, cancer cells acquire the capacity to migrate and invade surrounding tissues and to metastasize different organs. The urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) system, comprising uPA, the uPA cell surface receptor, and plasminogen-plasmin, is involved in the proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix and regulates key cellular events by activating intracellular signal pathways, which together allow cancer cells to survive, thus, enhancing cell malignance during tumor progression. Due to their importance, uPA and its receptor are tightly transcriptionally regulated in normal development, but are deregulated in cancer, when their activity and expression are related to further development of cancer. TGF-β regulates uPA expression in cancer cells, while uPA, by plasminogen activation, may activate the secreted latent TGF-β, thus, producing a pernicious cycle which contributes to the enhancement of tumor progression. Here we review the specific roles and the interplay between TGF-β and uPA system in cancer cells and their implication in skin cancer.
PMCID: PMC3732602  PMID: 23984088

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