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J Biol Chem. 2006 May 12;281(19):13021-9. Epub 2006 Mar 1.

Functional relevance of urinary-type plasminogen activator receptor-alpha3beta1 integrin association in proteinase regulatory pathways.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity is characterized by persistent, disorganized expression of integrin alpha3beta1 and enhanced production of urinary-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) relative to normal oral mucosa. Because multivalent aggregation of alpha3beta1 integrin up-regulates uPA and induces a dramatic co-clustering of uPAR, we explored the hypothesis that lateral ligation of alpha3beta1 integrin by uPAR contributes to uPA regulation in oral mucosal cells. To investigate mechanisms by which uPAR/alpha3beta1 binding enhances uPA expression, integrin-dependent signal activation was assessed. Both Src and ERK1/2 were phosphorylated in response to integrin aggregation, and blocking Src kinase activity completely abrogated ERK1/2 activation and uPA induction, whereas inhibition of epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase activity did not alter uPA expression. Proteinase up-regulation occurred at the transcriptional level and mutation of the AP1 (-1967) site in the uPA promoter blocked the uPAR/integrin-mediated transcriptional activation. Because uPAR is redistributed to clustered alpha3beta1 integrins, the requirement for uPAR/alpha3beta1 interaction in uPA regulation was assessed. Clustering of alpha3beta1 in the presence of a peptide (alpha325) that disrupts uPAR/alpha3beta1 integrin binding prevented uPA induction. Depletion of cell surface uPAR using small interfering RNA also blocked uPA induction following integrin alpha3beta1 clustering. These results were confirmed using a genetic strategy in which alpha3 null epithelial cells reconstituted with wild type alpha3 integrin, but not a mutant alpha3 unable to bind uPAR, induced uPA expression upon integrin clustering, confirming the critical role of uPAR in integrin-regulated proteinase expression. Disruption of uPAR/alpha3beta1 binding using peptide alpha325 or small interfering RNA blocked filopodia formation and matrix invasion, indicating that this interaction stimulates invasive behavior. Together these data support a model wherein matrix-induced clustering ofalpha3beta1 integrin promotes uPAR/alpha3beta1 interaction, thereby potentiating cellular signal transduction pathways culminating in activation of uPA expression and enhanced uPA-dependent invasive behavior.

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