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Biol Chem Hoppe Seyler. 1992 Jul;373(7):611-22.

Tumor-associated urokinase-type plasminogen activator: biological and clinical significance.

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Frauenklinik der Technischen Universität München, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Germany.


Evidence has accumulated that invasion and metastasis in solid tumors require the action of tumor-associated proteases, which promote the dissolution of the surrounding tumor matrix and the basement membranes. Receptor-bound urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) appears to play a key role in these events. uPA converts plasminogen into plasmin and thus mediates pericellular proteolysis during cell migration and tissue remodeling under physiological and pathophysiological conditions. uPA is secreted as an enzymatically inactive proenzyme (pro-uPA) by tumor cells and stroma cells. uPA exerts its proteolytic function on normal cells and tumor cells as an ectoenzyme after having bound to a high-affinity cell surface receptor. After binding, pro-uPA is activated by serine proteases (e.g. plasmin, trypsin or plasma kallikrein) and by the cysteine proteases cathepsin B or L, resp. Receptor-bound enzymatically active uPA converts plasminogen to plasmin which is bound to a different low-affinity receptor on tumor cells. Plasmin then degrades components of the tumor stroma (e.g. fibrin, fibronectin, proteoglycans, laminin) and may activate procollagenase type IV which degrades collagen type IV, a major part of the basement membrane. Hence receptor-bound uPA will promote plasminogen activation and thus the dissolution of the tumor matrix and the basement membrane which is a prerequisite for invasion and metastasis. Tissues of primary cancer and/or metastases of the breast, ovary, prostate, cervix uteri, bladder, lung and of the gastrointestinal tract contain elevated levels of uPA compared to benign tissues. In breast cancer uPA and PAI-1 antigen in tumor tissue extracts are independent prognostic factors for relapse-free and overall survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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