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J Cell Biol. 1997 Oct 6;139(1):245-56.

An endothelial storage granule for tissue-type plasminogen activator.

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Gaubius Laboratory TNO-PG, Leiden, The Netherlands.


In previous studies we have shown that, after stimulation by a receptor ligand such as thrombin, tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) and von Willebrand factor (vWf) will be acutely released from human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). However, the mechanisms involved in the secretion of these two proteins differ in some respects, suggesting that the two proteins may be stored in different secretory granules. By density gradient centrifugation of rat lung homogenates, a particle was identified that contained nearly all tPA activity and antigen. This particle had an average density of 1.11-1.12 g/ml, both in Nycodenz density gradients and in sucrose density gradients. A similar density distribution of tPA was found for a rat endothelial cell line and for HUVEC. After thrombin stimulation of HUVEC to induce tPA secretion, the amount of tPA present in high-density fractions decreased, concomitant with the release of tPA into the culture medium and a shift in the density distribution of P-selectin. vWf, known to be stored in Weibel-Palade bodies, showed an identical distribution to tPA in Nycodenz gradients. In contrast, the distribution in sucrose gradients of vWf from both rat and human lung was very different from that of tPA, suggesting that tPA and vWf were not present in the same particle. Using double-immunofluorescence staining of HUVEC, tPA- and vWf-containing particles showed a different distribution by confocal microscopy. The distribution of tPA also differed from the distribution of tissue factor pathway inhibitor, endothelin-1, and caveolin. By immunoelectronmicroscopy, immunoreactive tPA could be demonstrated in small vesicles morphologically different from the larger Weibel-Palade bodies. It is concluded that tPA in endothelial cells is stored in a not-previously-described, small and dense (d = 1.11-1.12 g/ml) vesicle, which is different from a Weibel-Palade body.

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