Examination of Urokinase Protein/Transcript Levels and Their Relationship with Laminin Degradation in Cultured Colon Carcinoma

Douglas Boyd, Barry Ziober, Subhas Chakrabarty, Michael Brattain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Conditioned medium derived from the colon cancer ceU lines was ineffective in solubilizing immobilized radiolabeled laminin. However, substantial degradation was observed in the presence of plasminogen and could be largely blocked by preincubation with polyclonal anti-urokinase antibody. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of the solubilized products generated either by the conditioned medium or by authentic urokinase supplemented with plasminogen yielded identical results. Analysis of the spent medium for urokinase by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method revealed a similar profile to that achieved with the laminin degradation assays for the six cell lines tested. However, Northern analysis of urokinase-specific mRNA indicated that protein levels could not be entirely predicted by steady-state levels of the transcript. In a previous study, undifferentiated colon cancer cell lines expressed larger amounts of the plasminogen activator into the conditioned medium compared with their well-differentiated counterparts. However, these earlier studies were performed using cells grown in defmed medium which lacked epidermal growth factor (EGF). EGF has been reported to affect plasminogen activator levels. Consequently, to investigate the role of EGF in the modulation of urokinase protein/activity, cell types representative of well- and poorly differentiated colon cancer were examined for their sensitivity of expression to this growth factor. In the absence of EGF, primitive cell types secreted, on average, 5 times more urokinase than their well-differentiated counterparts. In response to EGF, however, well-differentiated cell lines exhibited 4- to 6-fold increases in these parameters while the primitive cell lines were refractory to the peptide. Consequently, the differences in urokinase protein expressed by the well-and poorly differentiated groups of cells were abolished by the presence of EGF. The expression of a well-differentiated phenotype by colon cancer cell types in vivo probably depends to some extent on laminin within a basement membrane. The data presented herein are consistent with the idea that depletion of this glycoprotein from a basement membrane by urokinase-dependent mechanisms may contribute to the undifferentiated phenotype seen with many of these malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-820
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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