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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):23044-53. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.210195. Epub 2011 May 3.

Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) induces pulmonary microvascular endothelial permeability through low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP)-dependent activation of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and PA inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) are elevated in acute lung injury, which is characterized by a loss of endothelial barrier function and the development of pulmonary edema. Two-chain uPA and uPA-PAI-1 complexes (1-20 nM) increased the permeability of monolayers of human pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (PMVECs) in vitro and lung permeability in vivo. The effects of uPA-PAI-1 were abrogated by the nitric-oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor L-NAME (N(D)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester). Two-chain uPA (1-20 nM) and uPA-PAI-1 induced phosphorylation of endothelial NOS-Ser(1177) in PMVECs, which was followed by generation of NO and the nitrosylation and dissociation of β-catenin from VE-cadherin. uPA-induced phosphorylation of eNOS was decreased by anti-low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-1 (LRP) antibody and an LRP antagonist, receptor-associated protein (RAP), and when binding to the uPA receptor was blocked by the isolated growth factor-like domain of uPA. uPA-induced phosphorylation of eNOS was also inhibited by the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, myristoylated PKI, but was not dependent on PI3K-Akt signaling. LRP blockade and inhibition of PKA prevented uPA- and uPA-PAI-1-induced permeability of PMVEC monolayers in vitro and uPA-induced lung permeability in vivo. These studies identify a novel pathway involved in regulating PMVEC permeability and suggest the utility of uPA-based approaches that attenuate untoward permeability following acute lung injury while preserving its salutary effects on fibrinolysis and airway remodeling.

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