Neuronal plasminogen acivators: Cell surface binding sites and involvement in neurite outgrowth

R. N. Pittman, J. K. Ivins, H. M. Buettner

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172 Scopus citations


Sympathetic neurons release both urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) and tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). A number of inhibitors of serine proteases have been tested to determine their effects on neurite outgrowth from rat sympathetic neurons. Some inhibitors increase neurite outgrowth while others have little or no effect on outgrowth. Inhibition of plasminogen activator (PA) activity but not other serine protease activity correlates with the increase in neurite outgrowth (uPA, r = 0.89; tPA, r = 0.86; plasmin, r = 0.015; thrombin, r = 0.025). Antibodies that inhibit uPA activity increase neurite outgrowth, while antibodies that bind to uPA but do not inhibit activity do not alter outgrowth. Timelapse videomicroscopy of neurite outgrowth indicates that about 85% of the neurites increase their rate of outgrowth following exposure to inhibitors of PA. Routinely, 1-2 min after exposure af a growth cone to an inhibitor, there is an increase in lamellipodial activity at the leading edge of the growth cone and a decrease in lamellipodial activity on the sides and base of the growth cone. The increase in the rate of outgrowth combined with the decrease in lamellipodial activity on the sides of the growth cones results in neurites being very long and straight in the presence of inhibitors (persistence time P = 3.7 and 15.3 hr for controls and in the presence of inhibitors of PA, respectively). PAs released from sympathetic neurons and PC12 cells interact with 3 different binding sites on the cell surface: (1) an inhibitor of serine proteases (including uPA and tPA) is bound to the surface via a heparinase-sensitive site; (2) a uPA-selective binding site is present in patches on the bottom surface of PC12 cells; and (3) a tPA-selective binding site with high affinity (K(D) = 23 ± 10 nM) and high capacity (340,000 ± 130,000 sites/neuron) for 125I-tPA is homogeneously distributed over the entire surface. Data in the present study are consistent with PA being involved in neurite outgrowth and open the possibility of other PA-dependent functions occurring when tPA and/or uPA interacts with cell surface binding sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4269-4286
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

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