The urokinase plasminogen activator and its receptor: role in cell growth and apoptosis

Thromb Haemost. 2005 Feb;93(2):205-11. doi: 10.1160/TH04-09-0592.


The urinary-type plasminogen activator, or uPA, controls matrix degradation through the conversion of plasminogen into plasmin and is regarded as the critical trigger for plasmin generation during cell migration and invasion, under physiological and pathological conditions (such as cancer metastasis). The proteolytic activity of uPA is responsible for the activation or release of several growth factors and modulates the cell survival/apoptosis ratio through the dynamic control of cell-matrix contacts. The urokinase receptor (uPAR), binding to the EGF-like domain of uPA, directs membrane-associated extracellular proteolysis and signals through transmembrane proteins, thus regulating cell migration, adhesion and cytoskeletal status. However, recent evidence highlights an intricate relationship linking the uPA/uPAR system to cell growth and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Signal Transduction
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / physiology*


  • PLAUR protein, human
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator