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Biotechniques. 1996 Nov;21(5):904-9.

Identification of plasminogen in Matrigel and its activation by reconstitution of this basement membrane extract.

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University of L'Aquila, Italy.


Matrigel, a basement membrane (BM) extract of the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) sarcoma, used in tumor invasion assays, was found to contain plasminogen. Plasminogen was identified, using Western blot analysis and casein zymograms, by comparison with human plasminogen. matrigel contained approximately 20-100 ng of plasminogen per 100 micrograms of protein as determined by these assays. Matrigel reconstitution and incubation at 37 degrees C caused activation of plasminogen, which was serine protease dependent and involved tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) as an anti-tPA antibody which inhibited activation. This reconstitution and incubation also caused leupeptin-inhibitable degradation of Matrigel components as assessed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Degradation of the BM extract copolymerized in zymograms was caused by human plasminogen and plasminogen in the Matrigel. Maximal plasmin activity, following incubation of Matrigel at 37 degrees C for 16 h, was equivalent to approximately 10 ng of purified plasmin using the plasmin substrate D-Val-Leu-Lys p-nitroanilide. matrigel, therefore, contained all the components of the plasmin-generating system, including plasminogen. The plasmin generated degraded Matrigel components and exogenous substrates. Our data suggest that, since this tumor BM acts as a reservoir for enzymes of the plasmin-generating system, caution should be taken by investigators interpreting data concerning the effects of Matrigel on cell behavior and, in particular, cellular invasion.

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