Binding of urokinase to plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 mediates cell adhesion and spreading

Emmanuelle Planus, Georgia Barlovatz-Meimon, Rick A. Rogers, Sylvie Bonavaud, Donald E. Ingber, Ning Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urokinase plasminogen activator and its receptor are both found at the surface of the cell membrane in many cell types. The plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) is often associated with the extracellular matrix. The spatial localization of these three molecules could account for their involvement in cell adhesion and/or migration. We have shown previously that the urokinase receptor mediates mechanical force transmission across the cell surface to the cytoskeleton. Here we investigated whether immobilized plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) could regulate cell spreading and cytoskeleton reorganization. Serum deprived human myogenic cells were plated in serum free medium onto bacteriologic dishes precoated with different extracellular matrix ligands (fibronectin, vitronectin, or type 1 collagen) or PAI-1 at increasing concentrations. The number of adherent cells and their projected area were quantitated after 3 hours of plating. PAI-1 promoted cell adhesion and spreading in a dose dependent manner. Addition of antibodies to PAI-1 inhibited the adhesion on PAI-1 coated dishes in a dose dependent way. The PAI-1 mediated cell adhesion required the presence of urokinase at the cell surface. Removal of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked proteins abolished cell adhesion on PAI-1 dish, suggesting its dependence on the presence of the urokinase receptor, a GPI-linked receptor. Furthermore, addition of antibodies against αvβ3 integrin completely inhibited cell adhesion on PAI-1, suggesting that αvβ3 might be the transmembrane molecule that physically connects the complex of PAI-1, urokinase, and urokinase receptor to the cytoskeleton. Visualization of spread cells stained for filamentous actin with confocal microscopy showed a dose-dependent increase of filopodia on PAI-1 coated dishes and cytoskeletal reorganization, suggesting a migratory profile. These data indicate that PAI-1 plays a direct role in dynamic cell adhesion particularly at the leading edge, where increased levels of urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and its receptor (uPAR) are localized in migrating cells. Immobilized PAI-1 could therefore serve to bridge the cell surface with the extracellular matrix via the formation of a multimolecular complex that includes αvβ3 integrins in myogenic cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1098
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell migration
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Mechanical signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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