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J Cell Biol. 2001 Mar 19;152(6):1145-57.

Rac mediates cytoskeletal rearrangements and increased cell motility induced by urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor binding to vitronectin.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology, Cancer Research Campaign Oncogene and Signal Transduction Group, University College London, United Kingdom.


The urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) is involved in the regulation of cell motility in a variety of cell types. We show here that expression of human uPAR in growing murine fibroblasts leads to a dramatic reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. uPAR expression induces multiple rapidly advancing protrusions that resemble the leading edge of migrating cells. The cytoskeletal changes are independent of uPA and activation of the RGD-binding activity of integrins but require uPAR binding to vitronectin (VN). The actin reorganization is blocked by coexpression of dominant negative versions of either Rac (N17Rac) or p130Cas, but not by inhibitors of Cdc42 or Rho, and is accompanied by a Rac-dependent increase in cell motility. In addition, a fourfold increase in the level of activated Rac is induced by uPAR expression. We conclude that uPAR interacts with VN both to initiate a p130Cas/Rac-dependent signaling pathway leading to actin reorganization and increased cell motility and to act as an adhesion receptor required for these responses. This mechanism may play a role in uPAR-mediated regulation of cell motility at sites where VN and uPAR are co-expressed, such as malignant tumors.

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