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Bioessays. 1993 Feb;15(2):105-11.

Urokinase and urokinase receptor: a paracrine/autocrine system regulating cell migration and invasiveness.

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Dipartimento di Genetica e Biologia dei Microrganismi, University of Milano, Italy.


Urokinase and its receptor are essential components of the cell migration machinery, providing an inducible, transient and localized cell surface proteolytic activity. This activity has been shown to be required in normal and pathological forms of cellular invasiveness (i.e. in several embryonic developmental processes, during inflammatory responses and cancer metastasis and spreading). It represents one of the best known of the proteolytic systems which are currently under investigation in this field. The urokinase receptor allows a continuous regulation of the proteolytic activity at cell contacts, utilizing the different localization of urokinase and its inhibitors. The receptor, in fact, in addition to focusing the enzymatic activity at focal and cell-cell contacts, also regulates it by internalizing and degrading only the inhibited form of urokinase. Internalized receptor releases the ligands to the lysosomes and recycles back to surface. In this way, the proteolytically active areas of the cell surface can be continuously monitored for their activity and their location modified. The cell can thus coordinate its migration efforts with a step-wise modification of the proteolytic activity-map of the cell surface. The urokinase cycle can be supported by one individual cell (autocrine) or by two or more cells. In the latter case, complementation and synergism of urokinase and its receptor are found.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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