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Surg Oncol Clin N Am. 2001 Apr;10(2):393-415, x.

The role of the plasminogen activation system in angiogenesis and metastasis.

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Department of Oncology and Physiology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The urokinase plasminogen activator system (uPA) has been demonstrated to be required for the movement of cells through a matrix. These observations have been extended to the migration of endothelial cells during the process of angiogenesis, and recent data suggest that the uPA system is central to this process. uPA is a serine protease that is capable of initiating an extracellular cascade of proteolysis that involves the activation of plasminogen and matrix metalloproteases. These proteolytic cascades remodel extracellular matrix (ECM) and basement membrane (BM), allowing for the movement of cells across and through these barriers. In addition, these proteolytic cascades process and release various growth and differentiation factors that are sequestered on the cell surface or within the ECM, which contribute to the evolution of a migratory or invasive cell phenotype. uPA is also able to modulate signaling and cell adhesion through its specific cell surface receptor, uPAR. Recent data suggest that the nonproteolytic activities of the uPA system are coupled to adhesion, migration and signaling through various integrins. This article reviews the evidence for the role of this system in tumor angiogenesis and metastasis, which suggests that the uPA system initiates multiple cascades that contribute to these processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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