Multifunctional potential of the plasminogen activation system in tumor invasion and metastasis (review)

Int J Oncol. 1998 Nov;13(5):893-906. doi: 10.3892/ijo.13.5.893.


Tumor cell migration and invasion into the surrounding tissue depend on the invasive capacity of cells leading to the loosening of cell-cell and cell-substratum contacts via cell surface associated proteolytic enzyme systems. Plasmin is one of the enzymes involved in these complex events. It is generated by the cleavage of the proenzyme plasminogen upon the action of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA). uPA is synthesized and secreted by tumor cells and normal cells and interacts with a specific cell surface receptor (uPAR) thereby focalizing enzymatic activity to the cell surface. The activity of uPA is controlled by plasminogen activator inhibitors type-1 and type-2. A strong statistically independent prognostic impact has been attributed to uPA and its inhibitor PAI-1 in a variety of malignancies. Besides its proteolytic activity, uPA in concert with uPAR exert biological effects characteristic for molecules with signal transducing properties including chemotaxis, migration/invasion, adhesion, and mitogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Chemotaxis
  • Extracellular Matrix
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism
  • Prognosis
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / metabolism*


  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator