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J Biol Chem. 1986 Jan 25;261(3):1267-73.

Urokinase-related proteins in human urine. Isolation and characterization of single-chain urokinase (pro-urokinase) and urokinase-inhibitor complex.


Urokinase-related proteins were purified from 60-liter batches of human urine collected into the protease inhibitor aprotinin to prevent proteolytic degradation. Three homogeneous species were obtained by chromatography on zinc chelate-Sepharose, SP-Sephadex C-50, Sephadex G-100, benzamidine-Sepharose, and immunoadsorption on a murine anti-human urokinase monoclonal antibody. One urokinase-related protein with Mr 95,000 representing a complex of two-chain urokinase with an inhibitor accounts for about 70% of the total urokinase-related antigen in urine. Nucleophilic agents dissociate the complex into active two-chain urokinase and a protein with Mr 45,000-50,000 which is immunologically distinct from urokinase. Approximately 25% of the urinary urokinase-related antigen represents a single-chain molecule with Mr 54,000. This highly purified single-chain molecule was obtained with a yield of 5 micrograms/liter of urine. Only trace amounts (less than 5%) of the urokinase-related antigen were recovered as free two-chain urokinase. The urinary single-chain urokinase-related protein has no specific affinity for fibrin. It has a very low activity on Pyroglu-Gly-Arg-p-nitroanilide, a urokinase-specific synthetic substrate, but directly activates plasminogen following Michaelis-Menten kinetics with Km = 0.7 microM and kcat = 0.0011 S-1. The single-chain molecule is rapidly converted to active two-chain urokinase by plasmin. Active two-chain urinary urokinase has a very high amidolytic activity and activates plasminogen with Km = 60 microM and kcat = 1.4 S-1. It is concluded that the urokinase-related proteins in human urine consist of about 25% of single-chain urokinase (10-20 micrograms/liter) and of about 75% two-chain urokinase (40-50 micrograms/liter), the bulk of which is complexed to an inhibitor. Because even in freshly voided urine most of the urokinase-related antigen is already converted to two-chain urokinase, urine does not seem to be a suitable source for the large-scale purification of single-chain urokinase. In view of the very significant intrinsic plasminogen-activating properties of single-chain urokinase, it should not be considered to be a proenzyme form of urokinase. The dramatic differences of its kinetic constants from those of urokinase render the designation single-chain urokinase equally inadequate. Consequently, the designation "single-chain urokinase-type plasminogen activator" was recently adopted by the International Committee on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, July 13-14, 1985).

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